Brussels’ correctional court on Wednesday ruled against dating website RichMeetBeautiful, declaring it guilty of “encouraging sexual immorality or prostitution” and dealing a blow to its leadership. The website’s owner, Norwegian businessman Sigurd Vedal, was dealt a suspended six-month prison sentence and ordered to pay a fine of nearly €200,000.
The ruling follows a 2017 lawsuit against the website —which specialises in connecting young women with wealthy, often older men— after it targeted students at the Free University of Brussels with controversial ads.
The court slapped an additional €240,000 fine on the website’s parent company, Digisec Media Limited, ordering it to pay an additional amount to the university for damages.
At the time, several Brussels municipalities, as well as the city of Leuven, banned the advertisements, which consisted of large posters explicitly calling on female students to “date a sugar daddy,” which were displayed on advertisement trucks that circulated the university’s campus.
According to RTBF, during the hearings, the defendant complained of being made into the “scapegoat” of student prostitution.
The website, which has remained blocked in Belgium since 2018, was also confiscated by order of the court.