The police is holding a media briefing on April 10. Photo: Facebook/Hong Kong Police

A triad-run loan shark ring was busted on Monday that had been offering an enormous annualised interest rate of 465%, with one victim forced to pay back HK$260,000 (US$33,455) on a HK$16,000 loan, which is more than 16 times the initial amount borrowed.

On Monday, a total of 13 people aged between 17 and 49 were arrested in several locations. Police arrested eight men and five women on suspicion of offering unlawful loans and conducting money laundering, Sing Pao reported, citing police sources.

Four members were identified as the backbone of the loan shark syndicate, while the bank accounts to launder the money were registered in the names of the nine others arrested.

The loan shark ring, which started operating in July 2014, targeted borrowers with a low credit rating and at least 40 people had become victims.

The syndicate forced people with outstanding debts to cover their existing payments with new loans or forced them make false claims on their mandatory provident funds. It also used debtors’ bank accounts to launder up to HK$16 million, Ming Pao Daily reported.

In the raids, the police confiscated HK$130,000 in cash, four safes, three computers, mobile phones and documents. Officers are also searching for at least another five suspects.

Financial institutions are only allowed to offer loans in Hong Kong at an annualised interest rate of up to 60%, according to the law.