Jail and fine for vice operator who earned $250k over 5 years

A vice operator amassed some $250,000 in earnings over five years, a court was told.

Soh Pang Hwee, 51, who was arrested at Changi Airport on Aug 6, 2016, was sentenced to 21 months' jail and fined $36,000 yesterday.

He had admitted to 12 of 28 charges of living off the earnings of prostitution and receiving, harbouring and procuring Thai prostitutes around June and July 2016. Seven Thai women in their 20s and 30s worked for him.

Investigations showed that Soh started to run his vice business in Geylang in 2011. He would recruit Thai women through various Thai agents to come here and work as prostitutes for him.

He would have verbal contracts with each of the prostitutes to provide sexual services to 40 to 60 customers; and provide them with free food and lodging.

After fulfilling the contractual quota, the prostitutes could keep all their earnings but would have to pay him $15 daily for food and lodging.

In 2015, he rented a room in Joo Chiat Terrace to house the prostitutes.

In April 2016, he recruited Ong Kok Boon, now 44, to help him in the operations. He paid him $80 to $100 daily to ferry the prostitutes and collect their earnings. Ong would also station himself near a house in Jalan Molek, off Lorong 24 Geylang, to look out for police and ensure the safety of the prostitutes.

The prosecution said Soh collected at least $4,600 from the seven prostitutes.

Further investigations showed he had amassed some $250,000 in earnings in the course of running his vice business for five years.

Soh, the court heard, had paid Ong some $12,000 in wages for working for his vice operations.

Soh's lawyer Anil Singh Sandhu said in mitigation that his client was deeply remorseful and had cooperated with the authorities in their investigations. He said his client's Thai wife had given birth to a baby girl two months ago, and successfully applied for his client to defer sentence until March 12.

Soh could have been jailed for up to five years and/or fined up to $10,000 on each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2018, with the headline 'Jail and fine for vice operator who earned $250k over 5 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe