Founder of Free in court on sleaze charges

15th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 14, 2006 (AFP) - One of France's most high-profile Internet entrepreneurs, Xavier Niel, went on trial Thursday accused of embezzling funds from a sex shop that served as a front for prostitution.

PARIS, Sept 14, 2006 (AFP) - One of France's most high-profile Internet entrepreneurs, Xavier Niel, went on trial Thursday accused of embezzling funds from a sex shop that served as a front for prostitution.

The 39-year-old, who founded the country's second largest Internet provider, Free, is one of eight people accused of embezzling funds from the Roxane sex shop in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

Now chief executive of Free's parent company Iliad, Niel was acquitted last year of charges of proxenetism, after the court found insufficient evidence that he knew prostitutes operated on the premises.

Niel, who had invested in Roxane and two other sex shops, still stands accused however of pocketing some EUR 5,000 per month, in cash, from the establishment over a three-year period.

"I screwed up, I will be judged and convicted," Niel said in a recent interview. He refused to talk to the press after Thursday's hearing.

The trial is set to last until September 21.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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