Two men Ong Ah Huat and Teo Sah Soon were sentenced to jail and fined in court yesterday (4 Apr) for setting up a website for prostitution and living off the earnings collected from prostitutes.
In Singapore, prostitution itself is not illegal, but various prostitution-related activities are. This includes public solicitation and living off the earnings of a prostitute.
Ong, 55, came up with the concept of a social escort business with sexual services in late 2013. He roped in Teo to help him create and maintain the website, called MadamQ, to advertise for the business. Teo would update the site with profile information and photographs of the women.
Court documents stated that Ong recruited the women – aged between 23 and 33 – through people he knew, or met them through the MadamQ website. He would call or meet them in person and tell them that sexual services would be required if the customers wanted it.
Ong also told the women – who were mostly Singaporeans but included one Mongolian and one Kyrgyzstani – that he would take a cut of 40 per cent from customers’ payments, which would be split between Ong and Teo. Ong got 35 per cent while Teo took 5 per cent.
The business ran for about four years, with Ong earning a profit of $71,490.
According to court documents, one 29-year-old Singaporean girl entertained about 35 customers. She would wait for the details of the assignments from Ong, before going to various hotels to meet clients. This woman gave Ong a total of $14,000 from her prostitution earnings.
Another Singaporean girl, 24, serviced 40 customers, giving Ong $24,000 from her earnings.
Ong and Teo were discovered when their 27-year-old Kyrgyzstani girl was arrested at Holiday Inn in Aug last year, based on a tip-off. The arrest subsequently uncovered Ong and Teo’s involvement. Both pleaded guilty to several charges.
In mitigation, Teo’s lawyer said that Teo was down on his luck when he met Ong and had been bankrupt for 13 years after divorcing his wife sometime in 2000.
As part of the divorce settlement, Teo had to transfer all the shares he held in a company he managed to his ex-wife, and pay her and their two children a lump sum maintenance of over S$100,000. Furthermore, he had to give up his freehold landed property for his ex-wife and children.
The entire episode had left Teo financially drained, the lawyer added. “He had committed the offences due to the financial constraints he faced and also because he could not secure employment due to the 15-year gap in his work experience,” said the lawyer.
Ong was jailed for two years and five months while Teo got 11 months. They were also fined.