LONDON (Reuters) – Thai massage therapists and masseurs may be on the hook for tens of thousands of pounds ($1.1 million) after a surge in illegal business from people travelling to Thailand from the United States and Europe.
The scandal broke in March when British police arrested a massage parlour owner after a police raid on a massage house in Kent, south-east England.
The owner was arrested and was charged with importing and selling sex toys and other items that could be used to sexually abuse children.
The British government launched a probe into the allegations.
“This is a serious case,” said a British police spokesman, who declined to give further details.
“We have spoken to a number of massage therapists in the area and they are all very shocked and upset that anyone would use the services they provide for money.”
Police raided the massage parlor and seized equipment used to run the business.
The massage parlaors owners had been in business since the early 1990s and their businesses have since been raided and closed.
“It is difficult to understand how anyone could take advantage of vulnerable children,” a police spokesman said.
“We are also working with local authorities to see if there is a similar problem and we will be seeking prosecution.”
A police spokesman declined to say whether the case would be referred to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, which has been charged with investigating crimes against children and exploitation of vulnerable people.
In the United Kingdom, massage therapists have been able to continue operating as they have been legally allowed to do for decades without the threat of prosecution.
The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement that the alleged cases were “disturbing”.
State Department has warned Americans against visiting Thailand and has imposed restrictions on the use of massage services, which are illegal in Thailand and most of the rest of the world.
A Thai massage parLONDON (AP) – A British man accused of selling sex dolls and other sex toys to customers in Thailand has been accused of illegally importing and using them to sexually assault young boys.
A British police spokeswoman declined to tell Reuters why the investigation into a Thai masseur has been launched in Britain but said it had “no basis to doubt the allegations”.
Police seized two luxury cars and three motorcycles and arrested a 55-year-old man at his home in Kent.
Police said he admitted importing and importing sex toys from China.
The Metropolitan Police said in an online statement it was “aware of the arrest” and would “continue to investigate this matter.”
A British company named in court documents as the “SOCAP” is one of several companies linked to a massage salon owner.
The company, registered in Thailand, has also been linked to other sex abuse cases in the United Nations, including the U.N. Children’s Fund in Geneva and the U-N’s Committee Against Torture in New York.
A spokesman for SOCAP said it was aware of the arrests but declined to comment further.
The case has sparked anger among victims and rights groups.
A U.K. charity said it is calling for a boycott of the country.
“The allegations against the Thai massage bar, which we have been investigating for a number years, are abhorrent and will not stand,” said Simon Cox, chief executive of ChildLine, an advocacy group for children.
“Thai massage bars should not be allowed to operate in our country, or anywhere else.
We need to take action now and call on people to boycott Thailand and any other massage business that is operating in the UK.”
The U-UN Committee Against the Abuse of Children, which launched an investigation last year, said in its report that Thai massage bars “may have operated out of the reach of the police, with little or no regulation”.
The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, said it will investigate the allegations but did not name the owner.
The Thai massage law, which was last updated in 2000, is a relatively recent law.
The U.-UN report said Thai massage firms were not required to register with the authorities in Thailand because they were not registered in the country, but the government said in court papers that they had registered as massage parls.
“They operate within a loophole which allows massage parltors to circumvent Thai registration requirements,” the U.-U.N., which is headed by a U.NA.UNICEF said in April that its inspections of massage parliaments in Thailand had not revealed any violations.
Police said the investigation was continuing.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.