A Chinese man, who denies trafficking charges in Limassol following a police bust at his massage parlor, had used his money and residency status as an investor to set up his business.
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According to daily Phileleftheros, the 48-year-old Chinese national came to Cyprus as a foreign investor in 2015, after having bought a local residence in Paphos for €300,000. He also spent reportedly an additional €190,000 to buy a place for his business.
Two women reportedly told police they came to work as professional masseuses at the suspect’s spa for €960 as a monthly salary
Police believe the suspect was running an illegal prostitution ring in Limassol, in the Linopetra area, where they raided the business last week and detained him along with six women for questioning. The businessman was ordered in remanded custody for eight days, until Tuesday.
Local sources said police were in the process of obtaining statements from the women, three of whom came from China, two from Vietnam and Nepal, and another female from Moldova.
Cops in collaboration with officers from the anti-trafficking unit were seeking any information regarding the circumstances of the women, two of whom told police they came to work as professional masseuses at the suspect’s spa on a job contract offering €960 as a monthly salary.
The women reportedly told investigators they had to work long shifts up to 12 hours a day, while they were asked to perform extra services depending on the preferences of their customers.
Many Asian parlors are rumoured around the world for giving “happy endings” where male clients get sexual favours at the end of a massage in exchange for a higher price, depending on the nature of the service.
According to police, more money would end up in the suspect’s pocket if the women offered these extra services. The female workers were asked to offer “more than just innocent massages” so that the business would have a basis to charge a higher price. Reports also said police were told the suspect would raise his voice if the women refused.
Suspect denies charges
The suspect, who is expected to appear in court on Tuesday, is facing sex trafficking charges and exploitation, illegally withholding passports, false imprisonment, and illegal gains. He has reportedly denied all charges and given his own version of events, while police declined to comment on the nature of his arguments, saying more information will be available after the suspect appears on Wednesday before a district judge.
The women have been described as possible victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, while three men found at the parlor at the time of the raid were questioned by police and free to go.
Prostitution is not illegal in the Republic of Cyprus, while trafficking, pimping and running a brothel are offences punishable by law.