West Hampstead brothel madam ordered to pay back more than £1.3million
07:00 28 March 2013
A woman who ran 12 brothels across London has been ordered to pay more than £1.3million – or face another five years in jail.
Li Ying, of Fortune Green Road, West Hampstead, made £1,338,891.05 from running brothels in Camden, Barnet. Brent, Ealing, Harrow and Wandsworth, as well as in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, over six years, Southwark Crown Court heard.
The 47-year-old – who was jailed after being found guilty of controlling prostitution, concealing criminal property and three counts of money laundering at the same court in July 2011 – was told on Friday she must pay a confiscation order for the full amount she made within six months, or serve an additional five years in prison after her current sentence is complete. She must also provide full documentation of her bank accounts and financial transactions every six months for eight years.
Ying’s empire was discovered after officers came across a safe deposit box containing £150,000 and her fake passport at the Hampstead Safe Depository, Finchley Road, in June 2008.
She was arrested and admitted the money was hers, but provided no explanation for where it had come from, and was released on police bail.
Further investigation revealed a network of brothels, each one operating under a hierarchical system with a number of key players, including Ying, running each one.
A parallel money laundering investigation then led to the freezing of £96,000 in a bank account owned by Ying and identified a further £220,000 which had been transferred to a bank account abroad over the past five years.
Ying was rearrested and charged in April 2009 – but not before she had attempted to conceal nearly half a million pounds more of her ill-gotten gains from police by withdrawing it in cash or transferring it to China.
Investigating officer Det Con Richard Johnson, of the specialist and economic crime command, said: “Ying attempted to hide the money she made from running brothels using numerous aliases and bank accounts, and by desperately trying to move the money out of the country when she knew police were on to her.
“Clearly Ying did not figure on us carrying out the extensive and protracted analysis of her bank accounts that we did, in order to identify the extent of her financial benefit from her crime.”