A woman has been convicted of running brothels in London and has been ordered to pay over £1.3 million in a confiscation order.

Ms Li Ying, 47, was found by the Southwark Crown Court to have run 12 brothels across London, including brothels in Barnet and Harrow, and that she had made over £1.3 million by doing so. She was subjected to a confiscation order for the £1.3 million and told that if she did not comply with it within six months then she would face five years in jail.

Ms Ying’s operations first came to light in June 2008 when police were investigating the use of safe depositories in Hampstead Safe Depository in Finchley Road, NW3. A search of the premises found £150,000 in cash in a safe deposit box and a false passport for Ms Ying. After the money was discovered Ms Ying surrendered herself to the police and was questioned. She failed to account for where the money had come from but stated the money was in fact hers, later being released on bail. However, the police continued to investigate the matter and it came to light that Ms Ying was involved in a  network of brothels across London. It was also discovered that Ms Ying had a further £96,000 in a bank account and that a further £220,000 had been transferred abroad over five years. Before being arrested in April 2009 it was also found that she had attempted to conceal almost half a million pounds from police by converting it into cash or transferring it abroad to China.

Under s.53 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 a person commits an offence if they intentionally control any of the activities of another person relating to that person’s prostitution in any part of the world and they do so for or in expectation of gain for themselves or a third person.

There are a variety of offences that relate to money-laundering, including the offences of “concealment” (s.327 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002), “acquisition” (s.329 PoCA 2002) and failure to disclose possible money laundering (s.330 PoCA 2002). Under s.327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 a person commits an offence if they conceal, disguise, convert, transfer and/or remove criminal property from England and Wales, Scotland and/or Northern Ireland. Under s.329 PoCA 2002 a person commits an offence if they acquire, use and/or have possession of criminal property. Under s.330 PoCA 2002 a person commits an offence if they know or suspect (or have reasonable grounds for doing so) that another person is engaging in money laundering.

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Criminal Law Team post daily on interesting criminal law cases, Crown Court decisions and Royal Courts of Justice judgments. All of the Criminal Law Team’s posts are written by qualified specialist solicitors

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