Camden brothel made millions offering sex with 20-plus women in penthouse suites, court hears
PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 July 2013
An upmarket brothel masquerading as "London's only five-star massage parlour" raked in multi-million pound profits, a court heard this week.
The Steam and Sun Health Club pulled in staggering sums that may have approached £26million a year, while prostitutes earned “colossal” salaries of more than £100,000 a year, a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court was told.
Punters at the Camden brothel could choose from more than 20 women who provided sex in six bedrooms and two luxury penthouse suites, the prosecution said.
The establishment, which was licensed for massage and alcohol sales by Camden Council, also boasted a sauna, changing rooms and a bar that charged £9 for beer and up to £700 for champagne. Prosecutor Mark Paltenghi said: “The club was never operated as a massage parlour, it was run as an upmarket brothel from the outset. It was a lucrative business for both the women working there and the club’s management.”
He added: “It would be hard to think of a better set-up for a brothel.”
Steam and Sun had been running as a brothel for seven years before police raided the premises in February 2012, the prosecutor claimed.
Two undercover officers were offered sex for £100 per half hour.
The club, in Chalton Street, King’s Cross, was described as “London’s only five-star massage parlour” on its website, while a brochure said it was “the only place of its kind” in the capital.
The website boasted that “many celebrities and well known athletes” were clients, the court heard. The site made no mention of offering sex, but described masseuses as “busty”, “horny” and “energetic”.
Ross Lawson, 32, of Oakwood Road, St Albans, is accused of masterminding the seedy enterprise and laundering its profits.
He is being tried alongside four others including his sister Jade Lawson, 27, of Linkway Parade, Hampshire, who allegedly worked as a receptionist and is accused of assisting in the running and laundering her wages.
The jury heard police officers found 25 scantily clad women when they stormed the premises last year, some in bedrooms with naked men.
Bank records showed one girl received an annual salary of more than £109,000, while the prosecution claimed a spreadsheet revealed takings of £72,000 in a single night in 2011.
“If that were rounded up, it would be £507,000 a week, or just over £26million for a year,” said Mr Paltenghi.
Lawson allegedly held up to 30 bank accounts, including an offshore account in Jersey. Credit card bills of £8,000 were paid off in cash every month.
Efforts taken to mask the illegal activity included paying staff by PAYE, holding valid massage and alcohol licences, and paying corporation tax on declared profits of up to £700,000.
Alleged barman Waldemar Walczak, 29, of Coopers Lane, King’s Cross, also faces charges of assisting the running of a brothel and money laundering.
His wife Karolina Ginter, 33, and her brother Rafal Ginter, 29, also of Coopers Lane, are accused of acquiring criminal property. The five defendants deny all charges.
The trial continues.