Sugar daddy dating site that set up billboards outside UK universities trying to lure in debt-saddled female students is fined more than £200,000
- Sigurd Vedal, who runs Rich Meet Beautiful, ran adverts outside universities
- Free University of Brussels complained the website was clearly about sex
- Prosecutors charged him with violating anti-sexism laws and debauchery
- He was fined more than £20,000 and given six-month suspended sentence
- His company was fined more than £200,000 at a Belgian court today
Pictured: Norwegian investor and self-described ‘relationship expert’ Sigurd Vedal
An entrepreneur and his firm were fined more than £200,000 for promoting prostitution through a ‘sugar daddy’ dating website for rich men and young women.
Norwegian investor and self-described ‘relationship expert’ Sigurd Vedal, 57, runs Rich Meet Beautiful – a website encouraging young women to meet and date rich older men.
The company, which set up billboards outside universities trying to lure debt-saddled students into using the platform, was fined more than £200,000 at a Belgian court – and Vedal was personally fined £20,000 and given a six-month suspended jail term.
Vedal had been arrested and charged with ‘incitement to debauchery and prostitution’ after the Free University of Brussels complained when a poster appeared on campus showing a barely-covered woman’s bosom with the slogan: ‘Hey female students, improve your lifestyle, go out with a sugar daddy’.
During the website’s advertising campaign in the UK, five giant billboards were sent on tour in the hopes of getting 100,000 students to sign up in 2018.
The huge advertisements, which appeared to be poorly translated, showed a couple cuddling alongside the caption: ‘Romance, passion, fun & 0,- in study loan? Date a sugar daddy or sugar mama’.
The website advertised in the UK, sending five giant billboards on a tour of institutions in an aim to get 100,000 British students to sign up in 2018
The CEO of sugar daddy dating website RichMeetsBeautiful was given a six-month suspended jail term
Among the universities targeted were Regents University, Kings College London, the London School of Economics and the City of London Law School.
Laurent Kennes, lawyer for the Free University of Brussels, welcomed today’s sentence.
‘The site’s temporary closure becomes definitive in Belgium,’ Kennes said.
‘The decision on whether to appeal belongs to my client,’ Vedal’s lawyer Eric Cusas said without elaborating.
During his trial last month, Vedal insisted that he simply wanted to encourage customers to seek dates that were ‘out of the ordinary’.
Sigurd Vedal, who runs RichMeetBeautiful.com, ran adverts telling students to ‘improve your style of life [by getting] a sugar daddy’ across the country
Université Libre de Bruxelles, pictured, complained, leading to Vedal being charged with debauchery, public incitement to debauchery and violating anti-sexism laws
But the state prosecutor denounced this argument as ‘hypocritical’ and told the court: ‘Even if weasel words were used, everyone knew what it was about.
‘There are half-dressed women on the site, there are no photos of couples in a restaurant,’ she said. ‘Students are reduced to sex objects that must undress for money.’
Vedal is also under investigation in France, accused of ‘aggravated pimping’ after publicising a version of his site on a Paris campus.
Belgium’s anti-sexism laws, introduced in 2014, define sexism as a remark or action that is ‘intended to express contempt’, suggests someone is inferior due to their gender or is designed to ‘reduce someone to his or her sexual dimension’.
A man who told a female police officer, ‘Shut your mouth, I don’t talk to women, being a police officer is not a job for women,’ was the first person convicted under the law in March last year.