A taxi driver accused of trafficking an Asian woman into Northern Ireland for sexual exploitation allegedly operated as a tour guide, a court heard today.
Chee Seng Chan was arrested at Belfast City Airport on Wednesday as he picked up a second female.
Police claim the 55-year-old, of Greenlawn in Dublin, is part of an organised crime gang involved in a lucrative operation based in the Irish Republic.
Interpol have also been contacted amid efforts to locate the alleged victim now believed to have returned to Taiwan.
Chan appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court charged with trafficking her into the United Kingdom just over four months ago.
He was remanded in custody amid claims that potential evidence on a website he runs could be removed or destroyed.
The defendant, of Chinese origin but described as having Irish nationality, was detained by detectives from the PSNI’s Human Trafficking Unit.
He is not charged with any offences in connection with collecting the second woman from the airport.
Defence lawyer Mark Crawford said: “She signed a statement yesterday that as far as she was concerned this man is a taxi driver and a tour guide.”
The alleged trafficking offence relates to the first woman said to have arrived in Belfast on May 11.
Four days later she spoke to police but left without making a formal statement of complaint, the court heard.
An investigating detective revealed efforts are being made to trace her through Interpol.
Opposing bail, he claimed Chan could flee or take up further “lucrative” human trafficking work.
“The defendant has been using a website to advertise and I believe there may be evidence held on it which may take time to recover,” he added.
“There may be an attempt to destroy the evidence.”
But Mr Crawford argued that without a statement from the alleged victim the case will be difficult to prove.
He stressed that Chan drives a liveried Dublin cab with all the necessary documents.
“He has a taxi driver’s car and licence; could it not be the case that he actually is a taxi driver?” the lawyer asked.
Refusing bail, however, District Judge Fiona Bagnall identified the potential risk of interference with the investigation.
Remanding Chan in custody to appear again on October 17, she stressed: “There needs to be a lot of diligence in how the case is progressed in relation to the statement and interrogation of the website.”