Sex den operator jailed for laundering HK$17m
The operator of a sex den was jailed for two years yesterday for laundering HK$17 million in proceeds from sexual services provided at saunas in Yau Ma Tei.
Lau Hon-keung, 54, was found guilty in District Court on two counts of money laundering, for handling the proceeds of illicit services offered at the Temple Street Sauna between 2004 and 2005.
Lau walked free from a 2007 trial after police officers were caught on tape fabricating evidence in the case.
The Court of Appeal quashed Lau's acquittal in 2010, ordering a retrial. The retrial heard that Lau played a major role in the money laundering operation, as he signed hundreds of cheques to channel illicit income from the sex dens.
Lau and his eight former co-defendants were arrested after a one-year police undercover sting on their operations.
Judge Susana D'Almada Remedios said the money laundering scheme, which occurred over nine months, was sophisticated and involved a large sum of money.
She intended to impose a three-year jail term on Lau for both counts as a starting point. But She reduced the sentence by a year because of his poor health and the extraordinary length of the judicial process.
The first trial alone lasted 145 days. She ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
The court heard that Lau suffered three strokes after his arrest in 2005, which affected his eyesight and hearing, and caused him back pain.
Lau was first tried in April 2007, and he was acquitted after a District Court judge ruled that he and other co-defendants had no case to answer. That ruling came after their lawyers filed tape recordings that revealed police officers discussing the fabrication of evidence during the trial.
The Department of Justice appealed against the acquittals, leading the Court of Appeal to quash Lau's acquittal and order a retrial in May last year.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the trial judge had erred in his ruling of 'no case to answer', because there was ample evidence for the jury to infer that the saunas were used for illicit activities and that Lau was handling the proceeds.
Also in May last year, Sergeant Yeung Ka-ho, 33, and Constable Chow Chi-pang, 35, who were caught on tape fabricating evidence, were jailed for two years and three months for perverting the course of justice as well as for public misconduct in public office.