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The Montreal porn giant helped by Visa

The Montreal porn giant aided by Visa

UPDATE DAY

Montreal porn empire Mindgeek has had help from credit card giant Visa to market disturbing videos of child pornography, according to new legal developments in the United States. 

Visa knew full well what it was doing when it allowed subscribers and advertisers of Mindgeek's XXX sites to pay with their credit cards, Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled , California, in a 30-page decision rendered last Friday.

“At this early stage of the proceedings […], the Court can comfortably infer that Visa intended to help Mindgeek monetize child pornography content,” he said.

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“Visa lent Mindgeek a crucial tool – its payment network – with the alleged knowledge that there was an abundance of monetized child pornography on Mindgeek’s sites,” he continued.

The decision was made in a lawsuit by Serena Fleites, an alleged victim of Mindgeek, against the Quebec porn empire.

Serena Fleites
< em>Alleged victim of Mindgeek

Video of a minor

She is suing Mindgeek and Visa because videos of her when she was a minor appeared found on Pornhub. One of the videos was even tagged “ 13-Year Old Brunette Shows Off For the Camera (a 13-year-old brunette shows off in front of the camera), according to the judge.

Visa wanted to have her name of the list of defendants, but the judge decided otherwise.

The giant Mindgeek officially has its headquarters in Luxembourg, but its senior management and the majority of its employees (1000 out of 1800 in 2021) work in offices on Décarie Boulevard in Montreal.

The company operates a myriad of porn sites, including Pornhub, which was recently among the top five most viewed sites in the world, according to the ex-CEO of Mindgeek.

Feras Antoon during his testimony last year in Ottawa.

Without yet deciding on the merits, the judge based his reasoning in particular on the fact that Visa continued to offer Mindgeek payment services for its XXX sites, even after the publication of a devastating report on the practices of the company.

After announcing it was suspending business with Mindgeek, Visa then resumed quietly serving the company, according to the ruling. For comparison purposes, PayPal announced that it would suspend all business with Mindgeek as of 2019.

Inexcusable Conduct

“Visa's conduct is inexcusable and will likely cause immeasurable reputational and financial damage,” influential Wall Street billionaire Bill Ackman tweeted on Friday.

According to Judge Carney, if Fleites' allegations prove true, “Mindgeek is a criminal enterprise also engaged in legitimate business.”

Our Bureau of Investigation and the show J.E. broadcast a report on Mindgeek's activities in March. It reported on several lawsuits filed over the past two years and recent decisions going against the company's arguments to defend itself.

Neither Visa nor Mindgeek responded to our requests for a reaction. In a Washington Postarticle published yesterday, the two companies said they disagreed with the ruling.

SCANDAL AND LAWSUIT

December 2020
The New York Times publishes a report, “The Children of Pornhub”, which argues that the Mindgeek's flagship site is infested with rape videos and child porn.

Visa then announces that it is temporarily suspending its services to Mindgeek. The company removes 80% of content on Pornhub, including 10 million unverified videos.

February 2021
A parliamentary committee in Ottawa is looking into Pornhub. Company executives are heard, as is Serena Fleites, an alleged victim.

March 2021
Seventy Canadian parliamentarians are calling for a criminal investigation against Pornhub.< /p>

April 2021

The $ 19 million house of Feras Antoon, the ex-CEO of Mindgeek, which manages the site Pornhub, was the target of a fire in April 2021, in Montreal.

Mindgeek CEO Feras Antoon's luxurious North Montreal home is set on fire. 

June 2021
Serena Fleites and others file a lawsuit against Mindgeek in the United States.

February 2022
A class action lawsuit filed in particular by a woman whose video of the alleged rape at age 16 was broadcast on Pornhub is authorized in Alabama.

June 2022
Feras Antoon, CEO of Mindgeek, and David Tassillo, COO and number 2 of the company, announce their resignation and 125 employees are laid off in Montreal.

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