Amsterdam Orders Sex Club Closure

Tod Hunter
AMSTERDAM — The Yab Yum club, 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 sex industry.

Yab Yum has long been an expensive hangout for businessmen and foreign travelers, but city authorities believe its owners could be engaging in "criminal transactions" and have revoked its permit, according to Amsterdam municipality spokesman Hendrik Wooldrik.

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen said he wants to root out the "underlying criminality" linked to the city's famed red light district. A 2002 law requiring business operators to disclose detailed accounting in order to have their licenses renewed has helped Amsterdam crack down on criminal activity in the city center for nearly five years.

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

Wooldrik would not elaborate on what kind of criminal activities were suspected, but in the past private clubs and brothels have been accused of laundering money for crime gangs. Wooldrik said the owners have been ordered to close down the club within weeks, but they can appeal the decision to revoke the club's license.

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 one-third of the windows where scantily clad prostitutes stand to attract customers.