New Bill Would Jail Unlicensed Gray Market Lenders for 5 Years

Unlicensed, non-bank lenders will face five years imprisonment for violating the law, and regulation will be tightened on criminal organizations involved in such activity, according to a new bill submitted by MK Ophir Pines-Paz which aims to address gray market financial activity.

There is currently no legislation that addresses the involvement of criminal organizations in the area of credit and lending.

The bill also proposes to make finance ministry permits for check discounting businesses contingent on police confirmation that the applicant has no ties to criminal organizations.

The bill aims to prevent lenders and criminal organizations from dealing in discounted checks in order to dodge the law.

"The non-bank loan market in Israel is completely untamed, and lacking any real punishment, invites criminals to participate," Pines-Paz said. "The legislator has not provided for any serious criminal sanctions against such lenders, so the police's hands are tied. As a result, the police are unable to fight organized crime, which has been declared their top priority."

The global economic crisis has resulted in a severe credit crunch. Banks are warier than ever of extending loans these days.

At the same time, because of the dire financial situation of many citizens, credit is sorely needed. And when there is no credit to be found within the banking system, these people turn to the gray market.