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Grant Thornton has resigned as auditors to firms owned by operator of Pornhub

The move came “in light of the serious nature of recent developments”, Grant Thornton said.

GRANT THORNTON HAS resigned as auditors to four Dublin based companies owned by Mindgeek, the operator of the world’s most visited pornographic website, Pornhub.

The move by Grant Thornton Ireland to resign as auditors to MG Billing Ltd and three other Dublin Mindgeek-owned companies follows allegations of unlawful content on the Pornhub website in December.

Pornhub denied the allegations and less than a week later, it suspended all content uploaded by unverified users.

Asked about the decision to resign as auditors to Mindgeek firms here, a spokeswoman for Grant Thornton here stated yesterday: “In light of the serious nature of recent developments, Grant Thornton Ireland have disengaged with the aforementioned client.”

She stated: “Due to client confidentiality we are unable to comment on the specific nature or mandate of any client engagements.”

She added: “We are not in a position to comment any further.”

The records show that Grant Thornton resigned as auditors to the four Mindgeek companies on 13 January last with confirmation of the filed documents only becoming available in recent days.

MG Billing Ltd generated revenues here of $1.3 billion between 2012 and 2018.

The Dublin-based company collects subscriptions from premium users for the Mindgeek global porn empire and revenues for 2018 totalled $220.9 million – or a weekly average of $4.2 million.

Prior to the controversy, there were over 100 million daily visits to Pornhub and over 3.6 billion visits per year.

Along with resigning as auditors to MG Billing Ltd, Grant Thornton has resigned as auditors to three other Mindgeek companies, Nutaku Publishing Ltd, Mirmay Ltd and Liquidum Ltd.

Since 2012, Grant Thornton had provided audit services to a number of Mindgeek companies and also allowed the Pornhub owner to use Grant Thornton’s office address as its registered address here.

As part of the move to disengage from Mindgeek, Grant Thornton no longer allows the Mindgeek firms to use its office address and the new address for the Mindgeek firms is one on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin.

The bulk of Mindgeek’s 1,800 employees are based in Montreal and the company is headquartered in Luxembourg.

The move by Grant Thornton follows credit card firms, VISA and Mastercard moving to block in December their customers from using their credit cards to make purchases on the Pornhub website.

Yesterday, the chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell welcomed the move by Grant Thornton.

Blackwell stated that “I welcome Grant Thornton’s recognition that there were questions to be asked about the Pornhub company.”

She stated that Pornhub’s actions in taking down unverified content shows that even they weren’t happy with how the website was operated.

Blackwell stated that the move by Grant Thornton “is what you would expect of a company that adheres to certain values and has policies concerning social corporate responsibility so it is welcome”.

Blackwell stated that other audit firms who may be asked to replace Grant Thornton as auditors to the Mindgeek firms here “will all their own decision to make in relation to this”.

She stated: “It is in the name, it is not even hidden – Pornhub. Within pornography, there are issues around the exploitation of people and those questions will have to be asked by those people who may decide to carry out that audit work in the future.”

In recent days, Mindgeek executives have been grilled under oath about Mindgeek’s operations by members of the Canadian parliament.

In December, Pornhub strenuously denied the allegations of unlawful content and announced steps to protect against images of abuse, nonconsensual activity including a ban on unverified users uploading material.

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