Operator of 6 brothels arrested for laundering HK$170m

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 5:05am

Police have arrested a woman accused of generating about HK$170 million from eight years of vice-related activities and laundering the proceeds.

Her boyfriend, 57, was also picked up when crime-squad officers raided her flat in Tseung Kwan O around noon yesterday.

The two Hongkongers were arrested after the woman, 47, was released from prison recently. She was jailed last year for seven months for managing a vice establishment.

"Investigation shows she is the alleged leader of the vice ring," Superintendent Lau Tat-keung, assistant Sham Shui Po district commander (crime), said. "Her boyfriend is her assistant and he helps her to run this illegal business."

The vice operation was allegedly run out of six flats in Sham Shui Po that the woman had subdivided into 20 to 30 cubicles, investigations showed.

The cubicles had been used as one-woman brothels since 2005. The woman was said to be renting the cubicles to prostitutes and charging them for the supply of necessities such as condoms and towels, Lau said.

Officers also identified 10 of her bank accounts allegedly used in money laundering. "The total amount of money laundered through her bank accounts has involved nearly HK$170 million since 2005," Lau said.

Police believed the funds were crime proceeds related to her vice business and that part of the money had been used to buy properties. The woman was understood to have paid about HK$6 million in cash to buy her Tseung Kwan O flat.

The Sham Shui Po district crime squad examined her financial background after she was convicted of operating a vice establishment last year.

Yesterday, officers made the arrests after she tried to withdraw several million dollars from one of her accounts. They also seized bags of rental receipts believed to be related to the vice activities.

Lau said police had frozen her assets. Last night, the pair were held for questioning, but had not yet been charged.