Over 4 men were sentenced to prison terms in excess of 16 years in August 2018, seven months after the raid. An investigation into the massage parlour and brothel identified 20 government officials including senior police officers who had links to its operation. This included some named in internal notebooks and who received complimentary sex services at Victoria’s Secret.
On Thursday, a civil court seized the assets of up to 15 people including the owner of the colossal and notorious Victoria’s Secret brothel in Bangkok raided by the police and the army in January 2018. On Friday, a spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General revealed that more than half the money seized would be used to pay debts to a number of financial institutions linked to the owner of the establishment, Kampol Wirathepsuporn, who has yet to be arrested.
The court deemed the assets forfeit as being the proceeds of crime and human trafficking after it emerged that well over 100 of the 113 prostitutes working at the brothel in 2018 were from neighbouring countries. 18 of them were reported to have been forced into prostitution while 14 of these were underage girls including one Thai.
Assets linked to the owner Kampol Wirathepsuporn and manager Satthatham Chaengchai forfeited
The assets seized by court order this week are primarily linked to the owner of the Victoria’s Secret establishment, Mr Kampol Wirathepsuporn and the manager of the huge sex for sale operation, Mr Satthatham Chaengchai.
Mr Satthatham was among several people convicted in August 2018 by the Criminal Court and handed down stiff prison sentences for procuring women and girls for prostitution. He was sentenced to 19 years and 4 months in jail even though the court dismissed all charges in relation to human trafficking, a judgment which was appealed by government agencies fighting human trafficking.
Mr Kampol still at large – police still searching
Mr Kampol is still at large having evaded arrest in the days after the raid on the brothel in the Huai Khwang area of Bangkok on Rama 9. Police agencies including the Department of Special Investigation are still searching to locate the prostitution business boss.
On Friday, Prayut Phetkhun, a deputy spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General pointed out that in all, the assets were confiscated from 15 people linked with the brothel.
Of the amount realised, however, only ฿225 million will go to the Thai state while ฿242 million will go towards long term debt owed by the Mr Kampol to the global investment bank Nomura Securities and Thai firm Thanachart Securities.
All parties named in Thursday’s order have one month to appeal the decision by the court.
Raid by army and police in January 2018 saw over 80 women and girls detained at the brothel
On January 12th 2018, a large raiding party including male and female army personnel descended upon the prominent building in the Huay Khwang area to carry out the raid.
Inside, they found 80 prostitutes nearly all from outside Thailand. It later emerged that 14 of these were under 18 years of age.
An investigation into the brothel found that it employed over 110 women and girls including 9 minors working as prostitutes at the venue. Not more than 5 of the women or girls were Thais.
In August 2018, four men received sentences of over 16 years handed down by the Criminal Court in Bangkok including Mr Satthatham while the owners of the property where the business was conducted had charges against them dismissed.
Up to 20 state officials including senior police officers implicated as being linked to Victoria’s Secret
A search of the building and deeper probe of its activities identified up to 20 state officials including some senior police officers who were receiving bribes from the operators as well as complimentary sex services.
In the aftermath of the raid, all the women over 18 were prosecuted under Thailand’s 1996 law which prohibits gathering at a brothel to provide sexual services. For most of these women, it also meant immediate deportation from Thailand.
Opening shots in a war on the Thai sex industry
The raid on Victoria’s Secret was a high profile one targeting one of the largest and certainly most visible sex establishment in the kingdom. It sent a signal that brothels and places of prostitution were no longer off-limits for authorities in Thailand.
Since then, there have been more raids on a sporadic basis with a focus on establishments linked with human trafficking and the exploitation of minors.