Ministry of Justice blunder allowed Brent brothel madam to flee owing £1.3million

Li Ying of Fortune Green Road was ordered to pay back �1.3million

Li Ying of Fortune Green Road was ordered to pay back �1.3million - Credit: Archant

The courts service has admitted responsibility for allowing a woman who made £1.3million by running brothels to slip through its fingers without recovering her criminal profits.

The HM Courts & Tribunal Service, a government agency that is part of the Ministry of Justice, is facing serious questions after it admitted failing to keep track of convicted madam Li Ying, who is now on the run despite a court order requiring her to return her vast illicit earnings.

In an embarrassing turn of events, Ying, 49, was released from prison in October last year despite not paying back a penny of the money she made from a network of 12 brothels that stretched across Brent, Camden, Barnet and three other boroughs, as well as into Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Under a court order issued last March, she was supposed to have

returned all of the £1.3m by September – a month before her

release – or face a further five years in jail.

Police fear she has now fled the country. The service finally admitted this week that it was at fault and that its monitoring of prisoners with outstanding confiscation orders needs to improve.

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A spokesman said: “This individual should have been brought to court as soon as their time to pay had expired, before they were released from custody. Immediate steps have been taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

“The service is working closely with the National Offender Management Service to introduce a better system for monitoring prisoners with outstanding confiscation orders, so that the most effective enforcement action can be taken against them.

“Cracking down on those who do not pay is an absolute priority and we are succeeding in recovering more money every year.

‘‘The agencies involved in the enforcement of confiscation orders take every step to tackle outstanding debt and are building better relationships with overseas authorities and engaging specialist forensic teams to track down hidden assets.”

At the time the confiscation order was made, Ying, formerly of Fortune Green Road, West Hampstead, was already serving a five-year sentence for controlling prostitution, concealing criminal property and money laundering.

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