Choonhwa
Choonhwa "Pam" Lee, who has been convicted of running an illegal brothel at East Brisbane walks out from the Magistrates Court in Brisbane with her barrister Francis Walsh, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AAP Image/Regi Varghese) AAP - Regi Varghese

CCC probe brothel madam facing deportation

A BRISBANE brothel madam caught up in the Ipswich council corruption probe faces being kicked out of Australia after being found guilty of running an illegal prostitution business.

South Korea-born Choonhwa "Pam” Lee was sentenced to 12 months jail, wholly suspended, last week for running an illegal brothel from her East Brisbane Cloud 9 massage parlour for two years.

Cloud 9 was searched by police in 2015 and again in late 2017, this time with Crime and Corruption Commission detectives from the Operation Windage Ipswich council investigation.

It came months after a driver for former politician Paul Pisasale told the CCC he had driven the then-Ipswich mayor to massage parlours, including Cloud 9 sometime in late 2015.

The 45-year-old massage parlour manager was also last week found guilty of dealing with more than $70,000 in proceeds of crime.

She is now expected to face the potential cancellation of her visa and deportation to South Korea, criminal lawyers have told News Queensland.

Under the Migration Act, the Immigration Minister can cancel a visa if the person does not pass the character test or has a substantial criminal record, which includes a sentences of 12 months or more.

Lee's barrister Frank Walsh told a Brisbane Magistrates Court hearing last week that Lee, who has lived in Australia for at least 12 years, was "in the process of becoming an Australian citizen”.

Choonhwa
Choonhwa "Pam" Lee, who has been convicted of running an illegal brothel at East Brisbane walks out from the Magistrates Court in Brisbane, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AAP Image/Regi Varghese) AAP - Regi Varghese

Lee was a hard worker, spending about six years managing Cloud 9 seven days a week, he argued.

But Magistrate Tina Previtera said in her sentencing that Lee needed a deterrent, given she had carried on the illegal activity after police first searched Cloud 9 in 2015.

She said the "most startling and damning evidence” was telephone calls intercepted by the CCC.

In one, Lee complains to a man named George that a new, young worker is "scared” of her and had bad client feedback.

George responds: "Well when you have a new racehorse or a new dog you have to train them”.

Ms Previtera last week said Lee was clearly "not alone in this operation”. It "would seem that this is a bigger enterprise than just (Lee) and where (Lee) is in relation to it is not known,” she continued.

Lee's lawyer Glenn Collinson declined to comment on Lee's citizenship prospects.