A Romanian man who is facing charges of human trafficking and controlling prostitution allegedly boasted that he „lives like a lord” in Northern Ireland.
Prosecutors told the High Court this week that Valentin Rada was secretly recorded telling an associate that he disfigured a woman by beating her to a pulp.
He was arrested last week in Belfast following a two-year investigation into a suspected crime gang involved in the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women, Irish News reported on June 23.
It is the latest case of alleged human trafficking which has become a major problem in the East European country. British and Romanian law enforcement agencies have increased cooperation in efforts to disband crime rings.
“Our joint fight with the Romanian Government and its law enforcement agencies in countering serious organized crime and human trafficking is perhaps the best example of continuing effectiveness “, British Ambassador to Romania Andrew Noble said on June 17.
The accused is also charged of having a brothel and acquiring criminal property. He denies all charges.
He was detained with another man on June 16 as part of a joint operation with British and Romanian authorities.
Nine other suspects were arrested during searches carried out in Romania.
Officers seized £10,000 in cash, jewellery, cars, mobile phones, bank cards, weapons and drugs.
The 34-year-old suspect is believed to have „seduced” his alleged victim and brought her from Bucharest to work in the sex trade.
The case is based on CCTV footage from Belfast and secrete audio recordings.
Prosecutors say the he is a prominent member of a crime gang operating in Northern Ireland and Romania.
The defense lawyer said the alleged victim denies that her relationship with the accused involved coercion. He also said there was no evidence the woman ever required medical treatment.
In a separate case, a 43-year-old Romanian man earned up to £900,000 from running a brothel in southeast England.
Marion Nicolae had run the business from the town of Dartford in Kent, between April 1, 2017, and September 19, 2018 the court heard.
The Uber driver pleaded guilty two years ago at Maidstone Crown Court to inciting prostitution for gain, running a brothel and money laundering. He disputes the amount of money he made.
A case management hearing at a court proceeds of crime hearing was needed to determine how much money the man had made from his crimes, Kent online reported.
Prosecutor Tom Dunn said the total „benefit” of the crimes amounted to £900,000. He said that Mr Nicolae who lives in London had £200,000 available to him.
His lawyer Siddick Gokhool disputed the figures, saying they were substantially less.
Proceeds of crime
The proceeds of crime hearing had been delayed by a backlog of cases and had threatened to overrun the two year deadline needed to make a confiscation order following conviction.
The next hearing will be on September 15.
Prosecutors said that the prostitution operation was „a commercial enterprise” where he helped sex workers organize their work. He also assisted them in „very sophisticated online advertising”.
But he added that there was no evidence the women had been coerced.