A Chinese national accused of pocketing up to $20,000 a day from a large scale prostitution ring has been refused bail in the Adelaide Magistrates Court.
Hon Leung Chu, 31, was arrested over the weekend and charged with eight counts of money laundering.
The court heard the Australian Border Force and South Australian Police executed a search warrant on his Northgate home, in Adelaide’s inner north-east, and seized computers and mobile phones along with $16,000 in cash.
The police prosecutor told the court Mr Chu’s arrest followed a search of an apartment in April where police located a “brothel call centre”.
“Police say what they saw was receptionists and booking agents organising appointments for clients for the prostitution business,” she said.
Police allege evidence from Mr Chu’s mobile phone suggested he was running a “large scale prostitution business” involving about 36 prostitutes and 19 receptionists.
“He’s operating basically his own call centre to facilitate prostitution workload,” the police prosecutor said.
It’s alleged financial records indicate Mr Chu was receiving between $4,000 and $20,000 per day from the prostitution ring by taking a 40 cent cut from the earnings.
The prosecution opposed his release on bail, arguing that the police investigation was ongoing and more charges were likely to be laid.
The court heard Mr Chu, who was born in Hong Kong, has lived in Australia for 12 years on a refugee visa.
His lawyer, James Caldicott, argued that his client was not a flight risk because he had agreed to relinquish his passport to police and has a wife who is an Australia citizen with a child due next month.
“He has significant ties to the state,” he said.
Mr Caldicott said his client would serve a significant amount of time in custody if he was not released on bail because of the backlog and delay in accessing e-crime material.
“This isn’t the usual where it’s simply downloading text messages, we are talking about a significant amount of bank accounts that are being alleged, transactions that include international transactions,” he said.
“Mr Chu’s part in this is effectively unknown at this stage… he is contesting these matters.”
Magistrate Brett Dixon refused to grant bail based on the risk of Mr Chu fleeing to China among other reasons.
He was remanded in custody to face court again next month.