Rupee St James – which bills itself as a Bollywood gentlemen’s club – has become the first nightspot to be suspended under laws for public entertainment that were tightened in August.
Police said a vice syndicate had been using the club at St James Power Station along Sentosa Gateway to “operate and provide sexual services” – with clients booking the services of women via the club’s management for fees ranging between $500 and $1,000.
The Criminal Investigation Department and Clementi Police Division raided the club on Dec 4 and arrested nine women and two men, aged between 21 and 54, for suspected involvement in vice activities.
The Straits Times understands that one of the men arrested is the director of the company that owns the club.
The club’s Public Entertainment Licence was suspended from Dec 8, but an announcement on Rupee St James’ Facebook page on Dec 8 said it was closed until Dec 31 for upgrading works. It also said the club was open for private event bookings.
The tightening of the Public Entertainments Act was to prevent “unsuitable persons or businesses” from operating public entertainment outlets. Errant establishments also faced harsher penalties.
The Straits Times visited the club in October, following a tip-off from a regular patron who alleged that money for sexual services would be paid at the bar counter.
He said he had seen this happen at least a few times a week, and there were regular customers who paid up to $3,000 to take two or three women out at the same time.
At the club, women in traditional Indian outfits or blue jeans and casual tops went from table to table, chatting and drinking with the male clientele.
If a man bought enough drinks or was seen to be generous with his cash, the women offered to have a “relationship” with him.
The women said they stayed in Singapore for about six months as dancers at the club to earn money for their families back home.
Records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority list Mr Manmeet Singh as director of Club 989, the company that owns Rupee.
When contacted, the 38-year-old confirmed there was a raid last week but denied allegations that the club’s management facilitated vice activities.
“There was an accusation that the club was used as a platform for immoral activities. We do not condone such activities. If such a thing had happened, it was beyond our knowledge,” he said.
He added that if such services occurred, “they were between the girl and the client, and happened after working hours”.
When asked about the cash that was seen paid at the bar for the alleged sexual services, he said it was common for patrons to give tips ranging from $100 to $2,000 to the entertainers through the bar.
He said he is assisting in the police investigations.
Under the Public Entertainments Act, a licence may be suspended or cancelled if the licensee is no longer a fit and proper person to hold it.
ST understands the suspension is indefinite.
Under the Women’s Charter, any person who knowingly lives partly or wholly on the earnings of the prostitution of another person can be jailed for up to five years and fined a maximum of $10,000.