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“SHYLOCKS”-Days numbered on cancer cheques

By John Agok

The government has vowed to combat financial malpractice in the country known as “cancer cheques operated by dishonest business people to swindle the unsuspecting members of the public.

In a six pages notice of advertisement to the media availed to Juba Monitor from the |Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs yesterday stated that “the country is alarmed by the public outcry as a result of money lending practice known as “Cancer” widely exercised by some individuals and businesspersons in South Sudan, particularly in Juba Market”.

In a Ministerial circular signed byJustice Ruben Madol the document read in part.

“This Circular shall be cited as “Prevention and Combat of Financial Malpractices relating to issuance of uncovered cheque known as Cancer Cheque” Circular and shall come into force from the date of its signature by the Minister.

The practice looks from the outset, to be unlicensed , unregulated and obviously being carried out in the country outside the laws evidenced by highly compounded interest rates always charged on principal loan amount by the lenders which reached hundred percent “100%” interest rate  in most of the cases reported so far. Money lending, can be defined as a financial transaction by which an individual or organization (lender) lends amount of money to an individual or organization (borrower) who agrees to be continuously liable to pay an interest rate on the principal amount lent until the amount is paid back to the lender.

Money lending from a legal point of view, is purely a civil matter that should be dealt with in accordance with provisions of the Civil Procedures Act, 2007. But the criminal aspect of it comes from the fact that the lenders themselves use to make a condition to the borrowers to write a cheque that includes both the principal amount and the interest rate amount to guarantee payment of the money lent to the borrowers.

This condition cannot be negotiated or refused by the borrowers simply because of their vulnerability. This Practice of incrimination of the borrowers by requesting them to issue a cheque by the lenders who are not legally authorized or mandated to lend money to the people , is a serious misuse of a cheque as a creditable legal instrument protected by law as provided for in Section  353 of the Penal Code Act , 2008 .

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