The Macau police on Saturday dismantled what has been described as a large prostitution ring that was using Hotel Lisboa (pictured). Several senior hotel executives were arrested, including managing director Alan Ho, media reports said.
The police made the announcement on Sunday, although it did not identify the property or Mr Ho, a nephew of SJM Holdings Ltd’s chairman Stanley Ho Hung Sun. But a report by public broadcaster Rádio Macau confirmed that the venue used by the prostitution ring was Hotel Lisboa. The report also confirmed Mr Ho’s identity, adding he was presented on Monday to the city’s Public Prosecutions Office.
Hotel Lisboa is owned by Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau SA (STDM), which controls around 55 percent of Macau-based gaming operator SJM Holdings. SJM Holdings manages the casino in the Lisboa complex. A purchase option agreement for SJM Holdings to acquire the property was dropped in March 2009.
An email and phone calls to SJM Holdings by GGRAsia seeking clarification and more information on the police action had not been answered by the time this story was published on Monday evening. On Tuesday afternoon a spokeswoman for Hotel Lisboa returned one of GGRAsia’s calls but said the property had no comment to make.
Police said 96 suspected prostitutes, aged between 20 and 27, were held for investigation. One was from Vietnam, while all the others were from mainland China.
The police detained six suspects, including senior hotel executives, for their alleged involvement. The ring is suspected to have been in operation since at least 2013, according to the police.
The prostitutes allegedly were forced to pay the ring an “entrance fee” to use the hotel in order to solicit clients. The police estimate the ring made more than MOP400 million (US$50 million) over the past two years.
Prostitution is not illegal in Macau as long as an individual selling sexual services does so in a private place. But several activities related to the selling of sexual services are illegal. Soliciting for customers is a crime and organised prostitution is also illegal.
In December 2010, the Macau police arrested more than 100 women at another casino resort, the Venetian Macao, on prostitution-related charges.
(Updated at 5:30pm, January 13)
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