The Eastern Magistrates' Court. Photo: HK Government
The Eastern Magistrates' Court. Photo: HK Government

Two Filipina domestic workers who were arrested and detained after a police raid on an online vice ring in Hong Kong in May last year have finally been released on bail.

Magistrate Peter Law granted bail of HK$500 (US$63) each to Joan Palpal-latoc, 40, and Jeanette Gallego, 47 at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Monday, reported.

The prosecution did not oppose bail, but added a charge of money laundering against the workers for their alleged role in helping raise more than HK$20 million in earnings from the illicit operation that began in 2009.

The two Filipina broke into tears after hearing 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.

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.

The two women were each charged with one count of living on the earnings of prostitution of others after their arrests in May last year at a sex-ring call center in an upscale apartment in the Mid-Levels on Hong Kong Island.

The online prostitution ring was allegedly run by their female employer, a Hong Kong woman in her 60s, along with her older sister and a man in an apartment on the 43rd floor of Tavistock II, a residential tower on Tregunter Path.

Three local Chinese suspects were allowed to post bail earlier, while the two workers were taken into custody and formally charged in court.

The service allegedly targeted foreign visitors to Hong Kong via a website that carried pictures of women who could provide high-quality escort services for a charge of HK$6,000 to HK$7,000 (US$764 to $891) per hour, according to earlier media reports.

Read: Sisters, 60 and 71, arrested for allegedly running vice ring