The nephew of Macau casino icon Stanley Ho has lost his bid to keep details of his pimping trial from the public.
Alan Ho was one of six individuals arrested one year ago and accused of controlling what Macau authorities called the special administrative region’s largest ever illegal prostitution ring. Ho is/was an executive director of the Hotel Lisboa, which is part of the SJM Holdings empire.
The raid also netted some 96 prostitutes working out of 100 rooms at the hotel. The girls each reportedly paid the hotel RMB 150k (US $22,800) per year, and Macau police allege that the setup netted its operators an annual profit of MOP 400m ($50m).
Prostitution is legal in Macau, so long as it’s conducted in a private residence, while public solicitation and organized prostitution are forbidden. Pimping convictions carry sentences of one to five years – up to eight years for particularly egregious cases – while members of criminal organizations can face sentences of up to 10 years.
After spending one year in custody, the defendants had their first day in Macau’s Court of First Instance on Friday. Right off the top, Ho’s lawyer Jorge Neto Valente asked for a closed-door proceeding to protect the identities of the sex workers detained in the raid.
Valente also suggested that increasing his client’s already high public profile might put undue influence on the court to return a conviction. But the Court rejected Valente’s request and the first hearing continued as planned.
Valente told the Court that Ho entered into accommodation contracts with working girls but had no control over their activities. Valente also claimed police wiretap evidence would show that a former deputy manager of the hotel had worried aloud that Ho might find out about the prostitution shenanigans.
Ho has denied the charges levied against him but said nothing during Friday’s proceedings. Three other defendants also exercised their right to silence, but Bruce Mak, the hotel’s senior manager of security, acknowledged that the hotel had reserved its fifth and sixth floors for the exclusive use of YSL aka ‘young single ladies.’
Mak also admitted that hotel security was stationed on these floors and that the hotel had a special “check-in” for working girls. Defendant Kelly Wong, who held the mysterious title of Special Market PR, was responsible for running this check-in.
However, Mak insisted that he had no knowledge of any hotel staff ‘managing’ the girls’ operations. Mak also said he believed the setup was legal and that the local community had known about and tolerated it for years.
Wong’s assistant, defendant Qiao Yan Yan, testified that Ho, Wong and defendant Peter Lun, the hotel’s former general manager, were responsible for selecting and dealing with these YSLs. Qiao said part of her job was ensuring that the girls didn’t solicit hotel guests or stroll up and down hallways. Qiao said she was well aware of the rules as she herself was a former YSL.
The trial’s next session will be held on Friday (15).
Two months after Ho’s arrest, Macau police busted another large prostitution ring operating out of a hotel on Cotai. In 2012, Macau police arrested over 100 prostitutes working out of Sands China’s Venetian Macao property. The wrongful termination suit brought by Sands China’s former CEO Steve Jacobs against Las Vegas Sands and Sheldon Adelson accused Sands of having a ‘prostitution strategy,’ a charge Sands and Adelson have vehemently denied.