Vice Squad
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Russian oligarch arrested in France

One of the richest men in Russia and the world, Mikhail Prokhorov, 41, was arrested with 27 other people, including several young women, in a French ski resort of Courchevel. Apparently, all the women were let go soon after the apprehension, but Mr. Prokhorov and at least some of his friends are still held in custody in Lyon. So far, no charges have been filed. It will be interesting to see what these not so poor Russians are charged with, if anything. It seems that it might be soliciting prostitution or perhaps even (God forbid!) drug possession. (Prostitution itself is not apparently illegal in France, but solicitation is.) From the available information, it appears that the Russian women who were initially apprehended with Prokhorov and others were not prostitutes. Moreover, the Bloomberg article referred to above quotes Lyon's state prosecutor as saying that "[t]he possibility of gifts, dinners and lodgings in five-star hotels being offered to the women is ``part of the investigation.'' Wow. By this standard, most American males might be guilty, except, of course, we would need to replace "five-star hotels" with something more affordable such as one's appartment. But perhaps there will be more serious charges involved. One interesting thing is how little information seems to be available on the web about all this in English. When I googled "Prokhorov prostitution" I did not see any entries on the first page that related to this story. I guess why should anybody really care that a guy who has $7.6 billion is arrested for (presumably) soliciting prostitution? In any case, the French authorities are going to make a statement about this case tomorrow and perhaps I will say more about it then.

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