Brothel couple
Left, Maria Teresa Vittoriano and, right, Mario Seu Met Police

An Italian couple who pocketed almost £1.3m ($1.6m, €1.5m) after turning a five-storey house in an exclusive area of central London into a "chip and pin" brothel have been jailed.

Police found five Romanian sex workers, and even a naked male customer, inside the expensive Marylebone property during a raid in May 2014.

Some of the women claimed they could earn up to £500 a day pleasuring clients, but said a large proportion would be pocketed by the owners.

The search on the house, in Gloucester Place, saw several chip and pin machines also recovered.

Owners Mario Seu, 69, and Maria Teresa Vittoriano, 65, were discovered to have laundered proceeds of the brothel through a network of companies to avoid detection.

They were found guilty of controlling prostitution for gain, acquiring criminal property and two counts of concealing criminal property.

Seu, of Grafton Road, Kentish Town, was handed a five-year sentence while Vittoriano, of Kember Street, Islington, was given a two-year suspended sentence at Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday (14 December).

It is believed the couple had since January 2009 been using eight limited companies to launder the criminal proceeds of the brothel.

Throughout the five-year period the couple hid their true identities and were known to their employees and associates as Jon and Rosa. Officers discovered that in this period Seu and Vittoriano's business accounts were credited with just under £1.3m.

During the search of the brothel, officers found three chip and pin card machines, two laptops and a box containing nine mobile phones, five of which were linked to escort websites owned by Seu to attract business.

Detective Constable Silje Mikkelsen, of the Met's Organised Crime Command, said: "I am pleased that Seu and Vittoriano have received a custodial sentence for these offences and glad that they will no longer be able to exploit vulnerable women for their own financial gain.

"They hid behind the guise of fake companies to launder the proceeds of a brothel and thought they'd get away with it. But our officers were able to establish what these people were doing and how much they were making from their crime.

"This should be taken as a warning to anyone intent on exploiting women in this way that the Met will take every step to find and prosecute them."