A SENIOR police inspector pocketed $600,000 in bribes as ringleader of a Mongkok vice-den protection racket, the District Court heard yesterday. Lai Kin-keung, 36, who held the post of Assistant District Operations Officer, pleaded guilty to two corruption conspiracy charges. Since his arrest he has turned informer and made 13 detailed statements to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the court heard. Some of the information he provided helped lead to the arrest of 39 Mongkok brothel keepers this week. Lai hopes to win a reduction in his sentence by giving evidence for the prosecution against others accused of involvement in the plot. The inspector, who sometimes acted as District Operations Officer, was responsible for policing brothels, illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and other vice activities. Prosecutor Kevin Zervos said 25 vice establishments were involved in the corrupt scheme which also saw bribes being paid to other police officers. Lai sabotaged police operations by tipping off vice-establishment operators when their premises were to be raided and identified undercover police officers. Mr Zervos said: 'The defendant's role in the criminal conspiracy was pivotal.' Lai was responsible for making the initial corrupt agreements with vice establishment bosses, conspiring with other police officers not to take action against them and collecting and distributing bribes. In one case, the court heard, the inspector was even given an automatic teller machine card which gave him instant access to bribes paid into a bank account. Mr Zervos said Lai received $600,000 in bribes from the racket between June 1993 and September last year. He also received loans of more than $700,000. The inspector, arrested by the ICAC in October last year, pleaded guilty to conspiring with vice establishment operators to offer bribes and plotting with police officers to accept them. Mr Zervos said Lai was attached to Mongkok Police Station in July 1991 and was in command of four special-duty squads from February 1993 onwards. 'The defendant agreed with vice-establishment operators to allow them to operate. He agreed they should offer bribes to himself and other serving police officers. In return he would protect them,' said Mr Zervos. The scheme was first discussed around May or June 1993 when Lai and two subordinate officers met two vice-establishment operators who also acted as police informants. These two operators, representing seven establishments, began paying bribes ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 every one or two months. From this time until Lai's arrest more and more vice-den bosses joined the scheme, the court heard. One of them, who controlled six massage parlours involved in vice, walked into Mongkok Police Station to ask the inspector if he could be protected in return for bribes. Another joined the racket after meeting Lai during a police raid. One vice-establishment operator paid bribes of up to $40,000 a month. Michael Lunn QC, defending, asked the judge to adjourn sentence on Lai so that the true value of the information he has given the ICAC can be established. Judge Bailey remanded Lai in ICAC custody until March 3. The ICAC has made 99 arrests in this inquiry, 10 of them police officers.