Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amsterdam orders famed sex club to close


Amsterdam orders famed sex club to close
Fri Nov 16, 2007

One of Amsterdam's best-known sex clubs has become the latest target of the city's crackdown on organized crime infiltration of the city's world famous sex industry.

The Yab Yum club, in a historic canalside mansion in downtown Amsterdam, has long been an expensive hangout for well-heeled businessmen and foreign travelers, but city fathers now believe its owners could be engaging in "criminal transactions" and have revoked its permit, Amsterdam Municipality spokesman Hendrik Wooldrik said Friday.

Amsterdam has been conducting a crackdown on criminality in the city center for nearly five years, using a 2002 law that forces business operators to disclose detailed accounting in order to have their licenses renewed.

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen says he wants to root out the "underlying criminality" linked to the city's famed Red Light District.

A panel set up under the 2002 law concluded that there is a serious risk Yab Yum's owners use it as a front for criminal activities. The owners were allowed to respond to the conclusion, but could not convince the city not to withdraw its license, the municipality said in a statement.

Nobody answered the phone at Yab Yum on Friday to comment on the announcement.

Wooldrik would not elaborate on what kind of criminal activities were suspected, but so-called private clubs and brothels have in the past been accused of laundering money for crime gangs involved in everything from drug dealing to extortion rackets.

The club's owners have been ordered to close it down within weeks, but can appeal the decision to pull its license, Wooldrik said.

Entry to the club costs $100, according to its Web site, which shows pictures of an ornate bar and private rooms featuring double beds and huge bath tubs.

In September, the city announced that a public housing corporation had bought 18 buildings in the Red Light District to redevelop them — a deal that could lead up to the closure of a third of the windows where scantily clad prostitutes stand to attract customers.

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