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The Pornhub website on a computer screen in Toronto on Dec. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The mysterious owner of MindGeek, which runs Montreal-based Pornhub, is living in a mansion in London, according to an investigation by Tortoise Media, which documented its hunt for the man at the top of the porn company in a new podcast.

Bernd Bergmair is the majority owner of MindGeek who, despite owning one of the largest porn companies in the world, has maintained an extremely low profile. Until recently, few people knew who he was.

His role in the porn conglomerate drew public attention after The New York Times ran a story in December that said Pornhub makes money off child rapes and revenge pornography. That prompted Visa and Mastercard to cut ties with MindGeek and Canadian politicians began a study into its operations. MindGeek is registered in Luxembourg, but operates primarily in Montreal. It employs more than 1,000 people in Canada.

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Alexi Mostrous, a reporter with British-based Tortoise Media, set out to learn more about Mr. Bergmair. He told The Globe it took a team of four and over a month to track Mr. Bergmair to London. Company records showed he lived in China, but his Facebook page said he was in New York. Mr. Mostrous and his team found Mr. Bergmair’s partner’s social media account, which indicated London as the location and which contained data that enabled them to pinpoint his address.

Mr. Mostrous asked Mr. Bergmair outside his home what he thinks about the allegations against Pornhub and whether he has anything to say to the victims. However, Mr. Bergmair did not respond.

Mr. Mostrous told The Globe that it was important to speak to Mr. Bergmair because he has not responded to the allegations against MindGeek.

“We still don’t know what he thinks of these claims, however, as he failed to respond to our questions and has not even acknowledged us. Campaigners have told us that finding him is in itself a big step towards holding MindGeek accountable,” Mr. Mostrous told The Globe.

Earlier this year, Canadian MindGeek executives defended Pornhub’s safeguards before a parliamentary committee. MindGeek chief executive officer Feras Antoon, chief operating officer David Tassillo and Corey Urman, a vice-president, appeared before the committee.

The executives offered some information about the company’s ownership and structure. Mr. Antoon said that he and Mr. Tassillo are minority shareholders in MindGeek and that the majority owner is Mr. Bergmair. The Globe and Mail previously reported that Mr. Bergmair is an Austrian citizen.

The committee previously heard from Serena Fleites, 19, who had a video of her at 13 years old posted to Pornhub. Ms. Fleites told members of Parliament that she initially impersonated her mother to have the video removed. It was repeatedly uploaded, Ms. Fleites said, and she was forced to prove her identity each time to have it removed.

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When members of Parliament asked MindGeek executives about Ms. Fleites, Mr. Antoon said the company did not have enough information to confirm her account.

The executives could not confirm how many requests the company has received from women to have non-consensual content removed.

Members of Parliament and senators have also called on the RCMP to investigate MindGeek and Pornhub.

Last month, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told members of Parliament that the RCMP was reviewing a request to investigate MindGeek. She said the RCMP does not comment on whether an incident is under investigation, but said the matter is under review.

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