French police dismantle ‘sex tour’ prostitution ring in upmarket Paris districts

French police have dismantled an international prostitution ring which was operating a "sex tour" business in some of the most upmarket areas of Paris.

French police dismantle 'sex tour' prostitution ring in upmarket Paris districts
An apartment building in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. Photo: AFP
The international operation specializing in so-called “sex tours” saw prostitutes from Eastern Europe travel between capital cities to meet their clients.
The prostitutes from Ukraine and Russia would arrange appointments with clients in apartments located in the upmarket 8th and 16th arrondissements of the French capital. 
The pimps operating the ring owned a total of seven apartments where the BRP – the arm of the French police force dedicated to tackling crimes of pimping – discovered €20,000 euros in cash and several luxury watches.
Clients were charged between €50 and €200 depending on the quality of the apartment, earning around €1000 euros per day. 
Meanwhile the women took away €250 per hour, meeting with three to eight customers a day. 

The five accused of pimping the women were sent to a Paris court on Thursday to be indicted by an investigating judge.
These included a 30-year-old Egyptian, another was a 38-year-old Palestinian, while the other three came from the Philippines, Serbia and Cuba, according to Le Parisien
While selling sex is legal, soliciting sex or running a brothel has been illegal in France for decades, and paying for it was criminalized in spring 2016.
The ring assumed the cover of a medical tourism company to get away with its crime. 
The “sex tour” phenomenon, so-called because the women are constantly moved around, appeared in France in 2011 and has since grown in scale, according to reports in the French press.
French police estimate that there are around 20,000 involved in “sex tours” – twice as many as the figure they have for street prostitutes.

Paris police dismantle Airbnb prostitution ring File photo of a Paris apartment: robertcrum/Depositphotos

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Top French central banker in corruption probe

French prosecutors said Friday that they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.

Top French central banker in corruption probe

The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor’s office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation.

Graft-fighting group Anticor triggered the probe by filing a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard – a former MEP and briefly defence minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 – would be leaving her post as one of the institution’s deputy governors on December 5.

Returning to the foreign ministry?

She wished to “return to the foreign ministry” where she started her civil service career, the bank said.

A source close to Goulard told AFP that her departure had “nothing to do with the investigation”.

“Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened,” the source said.

A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed.

Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.

She has acknowledged accepting 10,000 euros ($10,530 at current rates) per month working as a “special adviser” to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.

Goulard’s explanation

Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had “no relation of any kind with the business activities” of the group’s founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

She said her role included “reflection, moderating groups, organizing meetings”.

Her lawyer declined to respond Friday when contacted by AFP.

The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.

Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.