33 months' jail for living on prostitution earnings, harbouring and conversion of criminal proceeds

Quek Choon Leong (left) and his wife, Huynh Thi Kieu Trang, ran a sophisticated vice ring comprising 32 prostitutes and 10 staff from July 2011 to July 23, 2013, when they were arrested.
Quek Choon Leong (left) and his wife, Huynh Thi Kieu Trang, ran a sophisticated vice ring comprising 32 prostitutes and 10 staff from July 2011 to July 23, 2013, when they were arrested.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A man and his Vietnamese wife earned $25,000 to $28,000 a month from running a large-scale vice enterprise for about two years.

Quek Choon Leong, 34 was jailed for 33 months on Wednesday (May 11).

He and his wife, Huynh Thi Kieu Trang, 35, ran a sophisticated vice ring comprising 32 prostitutes and 10 staff from July 2011 to July 23, 2013, when they were arrested.

They pleaded guilty in April this year to 33 and three charges of vice-related offences respectively. Quek had 64 other charges taken into consideration during sentencing.

Huynh was serving a 29-month jail sentence on 34 of 103 charges including obstructing the course of justice when she was brought back to court to face to face nine more charges committed while she was out on bail.

The court heard at Huynh, who had a Taiwanese boyfriend, came to know Quek when she came to Singapore in 2005. She kept in touch with Quek after breaking up with her boyfriend and lived with him whenever she visited Singapore.

They rented a lodging house in Tembeling Road in 2006. A housemate suggested to her to source for Vietnamese women to rent out rooms to, and she managed to secure tenants for the lodging house.

After the couple were evicted, they moved to stay with friends at a condominium in Lorong 40 Geylang.

It was in Vietnam, where she went to prepare for the birth of her first child, that she told her acquaintances that she could rent them a place in Singapore.

While staying at the condo, she helped a Vietnamese woman fetch girls from the airport, offered them a place to live, and helped collect money from them for the woman.

After the couple were evicted, they rented two lodging houses in Geylang, and subsequently resided in Ceylon Road.

Around mid-2010, a freelance prostitute told the couple she earned more as a prostitute than as a hostess.

The following year, Huynh suggested to her husband that they propose to their tenants to work as prostitutes under them. This meant the women would hand over a share of their earnings in return for accommodation, meals and help in extending their stay here.

Quek initially opposed the idea but agreed after his wife told him it was "trade practice" for prostitutes to hand over $10 per $70 to $80 earned from each customer.

On average, the couple had about 20 Vietnamese women working under them each month.

Huynh employed several helpers, including two agents in Vietnam, as contacts to recruit attractive women. The women had to sign tenancy agreements and would incur a financial penalty if they broke any "rules".

Huynh also hired lookouts for law enforcement officers in Geylang so she could warn her workers.

The court heard that Quek gambled at Resorts World Sentosa casino and converted his prostitution earnings into chips totalling $29,000 on June 4, 2013, $23,630 on June 12, and $27,950 on July 4 that year.

Sometime before early August last year - weeks before Huynh was jailed - she again arranged for Vietnamese girls to come to Singapore to work as prostitutes, but Quek did not know this until he saw the three women, aged 22 to 28, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yihong.

The prostitutes had to hand over their earnings, with a part of it to the couple, and the remaining to be returned when they went home. They had to, among other things, charge a minimum of $80 for sexual services, and leave the condominium unit in Changi, which the couple had rented in October 2014, for work.

Huynh was given another 10 months' jail in April this year.

elena@sph.com.sg