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Pinay, employer in online sex case charged with money laundering

07 January 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao 
The Filipinas were granted bail at Eastern court

Two Filipina domestic workers charged with taking part in an online sex-for-pay service allegedly operated by their employer have been finally freed on bail, nearly eight months after their arrest.

But one of the helpers, Jo-an Palpal-latoc, has been charged along with her employer, named only as Ms Wong, with laundering about $20 million in alleged earnings from the illicit operation.

The individual counts of “living on the earnings of prostitution of others” against Palpal-latoc and Gallego were also amended to “conspiracy to live on the earnings of prostitution of others”.

Magistrate Peter Law granted bail of $500 each to Palpal-latoc, 40, and Jeanette Gallego, 47, on Monday, Jan 7, after giving the prosecution a scolding for letting the case drag on while the two were in custody.

Wong, 69, has been out on bail, along with her 72-year-old sister and a male relative after they were arrested in a police raid on May 17 last year on her flat on the 43rd floor of Tavistock II residential block on Tregunter Path, Mid-Levels.

The two maids were also arrested as they were found manning a number of dating websites offering sex to foreign tourists, police said.

Prosecutors said the registered company that operated the sex-for-pay service was housed in Wong’s flat. They later said bank ledgers found in the flat showed earnings from the operation went to Wong’s bank accounts.

Investigators also found a bank account owned by Palpal-latoc, with some amount in it, but they didn’t find any account owned by Gallego, so she was not charged with money laundering.

The two helpers broke into tears after hearing Magistrate Law say they would be released on bail.

Outside the courthouse, they said they thought they would be freed for good because they had already been in remand for nearly eight months.

“Ang sabi ng abogado sa amin noong Biyernes ay pagkatapos ng hearing ngayon ay makakauwi na kami,” said Gallego.

The two were later taken by an officer of the Consulate to a shelter run by the Overseas Worker Welfare Office, which was given to the court as their temporary address.

Law adjourned the hearing until Jan 28 for further investigation and legal advice,

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