Singapore

Club at St James suspended for suspected vice activity

St James Power Station nightspot first to be suspended under tougher public entertainment laws

Rupee St James - which bills itself as a Bollywood gentlemen's club - has become the first nightspot to be suspended under laws for public entertainment that were tightened in August.

Police said that a vice syndicate had been using the club at St James Power Station on Sentosa Gateway to "operate and provide sexual services" - with clients booking the services of women via the club's management for fees ranging between $500 and $1,000.

The Criminal Investigation Department and Clementi Police Division raided the club on Dec 4 and arrested nine women and two men, aged between 21 and 54, for suspected involvement in vice activities.

The Straits Times understands that one of the male suspects is the director of the company that owns the club.

The club's Public Entertainment Licence was suspended from Dec 8, but an announcement on its11 Facebook page that day said it was closed until Dec 31 for upgrading works.

It also said that the club was open for private event bookings.

The tightening of the Public Entertainments Act was to prevent "unsuitable persons or businesses" from operating public entertainment outlets.

Errant establishments also faced harsher penalties.

The Straits Times visited the club in October, following a tip-off from a regular patron who alleged that money for sexual services would be paid at the bar counter.

He said that he had seen this happen at least a few times a week, and there were regular customers who paid up to $3,000 to take two or three women out at the same time.

At the club, women in traditional Indian outfits or blue jeans and casual tops went from table to table, chatting and drinking with the male clientele.

If a man bought enough drinks or was seen to be generous with his cash, the women offered to have a "relationship" with him.

Records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority list Mr Manmeet Singh as director of Club 989, the company that owns Rupee.

When contacted, the 38-year-old confirmed there was a raid last week but denied allegations that the club's management had facilitated vice activities.

"There was an accusation that the club was used as a platform for immoral activities. We do not condone such activities. If such a thing had happened, it was beyond our knowledge," he said.

He added that if such services occurred, "they were between the girl and the client, and happened after working hours".

Asked about the cash that was seen paid at the bar for the alleged sexual services, he said it was common for patrons to give tips ranging from $100 to $2,000 to the entertainers through the bar.

COURT & CRIME