Quantcast
Connect with us

Backpage.com hit with new pimping, money-laundering charges in California

Published

on

California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Friday filed new criminal charges of pimping and money laundering against the chief executive and controlling shareholders of the website Backpage.com, reviving a case that was dismissed by a judge earlier this month.

The new charges against Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer and controlling shareholders Michael Lacey and James Larkin include 26 counts of money laundering and 13 counts of pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping.

ADVERTISEMENT

While the pimping charges appear similar to those filed by Harris against the trio in October and later dismissed, the money laundering allegations are new.

Backpage, the second-largest U.S. online classified ad service after Craigslist, has faced scrutiny from the U.S. Senate as well as civil lawsuits over allegations that the site facilitates sex trafficking, especially of children.

But efforts to prosecute the company have been blocked by a federal law that shields website operators from responsibility for content posted by third-parties.

The complaint filed Friday alleges that the defendants created multiple corporate entities to launder money and circumvent the refusal of financial institutions to process Backpage transactions because of overtly sexual material, the Attorney General’s office said in a press release.

It also alleges that the defendants created other sites to increase the company’s prostitution-related revenue and developed content for those sites by using victims’ photographs or information without their knowledge.

ADVERTISEMENT

Representatives for Backpage could not immediately be reached for comment.

The latest action, like other lawsuits involving Backpage.com, will be closely watched by the technology industry. The federal shield for content liability is considered critical for web companies ranging from Google and Facebook to eBay and Airbnb, but it has come under fire from some lawmakers and judges.

One civil lawsuit against Backpage was filed in 2012 in Washington State by three young teenagers who alleged they were raped multiple times after being advertised on the site. The girls, the oldest of whom was 15, sued Backpage for claims including sexual exploitation of children, alleging its posting rules were intended to instruct pimps how to post trafficking ads that evade law enforcement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Backpage argued it has rules to prevent unlawful posts, and some free speech advocates filed briefs in support of its position. The Washington state Supreme Court disagreed, ruling last year that the lawsuit could go forward.

Earlier this year, however, a similar trafficking case involving children against Backpage in Massachusetts was dismissed by a federal appeals court, which said the free speech principles embodied in the Communications Decency Act were paramount.

ADVERTISEMENT

Harris, a Democrat, was recently elected to the U.S. Senate and will take office in January.

(Reporting by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Mary Milliken)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Pressured by US sanctions, Cuba struggles to pay its debts

Published

on

Foreign companies going unpaid, creditor countries told to be patient: as Cuba struggles under the weight of US sanctions it has also been struggling to pay its debts, raising serious concern among its partners.

Having negotiated a restructuring of its debt with 14 countries through the Paris Club of creditors in 2015, Cuba last year failed to make timely payments to six of them - Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Japan and Spain.

The Caribbean nation was supposed to pay those countries "$32 to $33 million" of the total $82 million due in 2019, one diplomatic source said. Its failure to do so leaves it facing stiff interest payments of 9 percent.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Israel’s ‘most vulnerable’ hit by political stalemate

Published

on

Israel's grinding political deadlock has squeezed funding for programmes helping troubled youths, disadvantaged communities and the disabled, forcing state-backed social organisations to rely on crowd-funding to get by.

Polls indicate the country's March 2 election, the third in less than a year, will not produce a clear win for right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his main rival Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party.

That result could force more fraught coalition talks, prolonging the stalemate that has kept lawmakers from passing a budget for this year.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

‘America First’ vs ‘Make in India’ as Modi hosts Trump

Published

on

Trade ties between the United States and India have long been problematic but under "America First" President Donald Trump and "Make in India" Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they have worsened.

While eclipsed by his trade war with China, Trump's tussle with India, and New Delhi's prickly reaction, has made a major pact unlikely during the American president's visit to the world's fifth-largest economy from Monday.

"They've been hitting us very, very hard for many, many years," Trump said of India ahead of the 36-hour trip to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi accompanied by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others.

Continue Reading
 
 
close-image