Indonesian domestic workers gather in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. Photo: Asia Times

Indonesia has urged Hong Kong authorities to take strong action against unscrupulous loan sharks who hold the passports of foreign domestic workers as collateral while repayments are made at interest rates as high as 125%.

Consul General Tri Tharyat urged Indonesians in Hong Kong and Macau not to give their passports to other parties because this was against his country’s immigration laws.

“If any third party is withholding your passport unlawfully, please report to the consulate directly,” Tri Tharyat said in a statement.

He was speaking after it was revealed that a 64-year-old man had taken the passports of domestic workers, mostly Indonesians and Filipinos, while they repaid 878 loans worth about HK$3 million at annual interest rates more than double the legal threshold of 60%.

The consulate said it would continue to assist police who are investigating  the case and would try to ensure that the holders of passports found at the man’s residence were adequately protected.

Leung Hing-ki, chairman of the Hong Kong TKI Association —  a group that provides support to Indonesian domestic helpers — said most of the victims were Indonesians, Sing Tao Daily reported.

He said many Indonesians were not experienced in financial  management and could easily fall into debt if they overspent. Most had needed to borrow money to pay fees to employment agencies before coming to Hong Kong.

Read: Police arrest suspected loan shark who targeted maids

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