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General Laws

Section 49. (a) Whoever in exchange for either a loan of money or other property knowingly contracts for, charges, takes or receives, directly or indirectly, interest and expenses the aggregate of which exceeds an amount greater than twenty per centum per annum upon the sum loaned or the equivalent rate for a longer or shorter period, shall be guilty of criminal usury and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment. For the purposes of this section the amount to be paid upon any loan for interest or expenses shall include all sums paid or to be paid by or on behalf of the borrower for interest, brokerage, recording fees, commissions, services, extension of loan, forbearance to enforce payment, and all other sums charged against or paid or to be paid by the borrower for making or securing directly or indirectly the loan, and shall include all such sums when paid by or on behalf of or charged against the borrower for or on account of making or securing the loan, directly or indirectly, to or by any person, other than the lender, if such payment or charge was known to the lender at the time of making the loan, or might have been ascertained by reasonable inquiry.

(b) Whoever, with knowledge of the contents thereof, possesses any writing, paper, instrument or article used to record a transaction proscribed under the provisions of paragraph (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one half years, or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(c) Any loan at a rate of interest proscribed under the provisions of paragraph (a) may be declared void by the supreme judicial or superior court in equity upon petition by the person to whom the loan was made.

(d) The provisions of paragraph (a) to (c), inclusive, shall not apply to any person who notifies the attorney general of his intent to engage in a transaction or transactions which, but for the provisions of this paragraph, would be proscribed under the provisions of paragraph (a) providing any such person maintains records of any such transaction. Such notification shall be valid for a two year period and shall contain the person’s name and accurate address. No lender shall publicly advertise the fact of such notification nor use the fact of such notification to solicit business, except that such notification may be revealed to an individual upon his inquiry. Illegal use of such notification shall be punished by a fine of one thousand dollars. Such records shall contain the name and address of the borrower, the amount borrowed, the interest and expenses to be paid by the borrower, the date the loan is made and the date or dates on which any payment is due. Any such records shall be made available to the attorney general for the purposes of inspection upon his request. Such records and their contents shall be confidential but may be used by the attorney general, or any district attorney with the approval of the attorney general, for the purposes of conducting any criminal proceeding to which such records or their contents are relevant.

(e) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any loan the rate of interest for which is regulated under any other provision of general or special law or regulations promulgated thereunder or to any lender subject to control, regulation or examination by any state or federal regulatory agency.

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