Pornhub owner resolves US probe into sex trafficking ties by paying $1.8 million

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The parent company of Pornhub.com agreed on Thursday in a Brooklyn, New York court to pay $1.8 million to the U.S. government in an effort to resolve a probe into its ties with an alleged sex trafficking operation, according to federal prosecutors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced that Aylo Holdings S.A.R.L., formerly MindGeek S.A.R.L., the parent company to Pornhub.com, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to resolve a charge of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions involving sex trafficking proceeds.

The proceeding was held in a federal court in Brooklyn before U.S. Chief Magistrate Lois Bloom.

Under the DPA, Aylo will be monitored for three years while also making payments to the U.S. and individuals adversely affected by the underlying sex trafficking.

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“This deferred prosecution agreement holds the parent company of Pornhub.com accountable for its role in hosting videos and accepting payments from criminal actors who coerced young women into engaging in sexual acts on videos that were posted without their consent,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “This resolution will not only provide oversight over one of the largest online content distributors in the world and ensure the company’s lawful behavior, but it will also develop industry-wide standards for safety and compliance.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Aylo, beginning in 2009, hosted pornographic videos created by GirlsDoPorn (GDP) and GirlsDoToys (GDT), on Aylo’s websites, including Pornhub.com.

The creators and operators at GDP were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2019 for charges including sex trafficking offenses in which they deceived and coerced young women to appear in sex videos which were later posted online without their consent. Several of the creators and operators were convicted.

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) building

Aylo received over $100,000 from GDP, which was derived from sex trafficking, according to the agreement filed in federal court.

Also, according to the agreement, GDP gave MindGeek information suggesting the women in the videos consented, though MindGeek did not independently verify the consent.

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“Motivated by profit, Aylo Holdings knowingly enriched itself by turning a blind eye to the concerns of victims who communicated to the company that they were deceived and coerced into participating in illicit sexual activity,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith said. “Make no mistake, any entity that engages in sexual exploitation will be held to account for the mental anguish and terror imposed on victims. I hope today’s proceedings bring a sense of justice to the victims in this case as they move forward in their lives.”

After three years, prosecutors will dismiss the charge against Aylo as long as the company improves its compliance protocols, the agreement noted. Aylo will also have an independent compliance monitor during the three-year period.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said if Aylo breaches the terms of the DPA, the company has agreed to be prosecuted for engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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