A former associate of deceased US financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested in France on counts of sexual misconduct and trafficking.
Prosecutors in Paris confirmed french modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, 74, is being held on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking, after two days of interviews by specialist police from an anti-paedophilia unit, French media report.
Mr Brunel denies the charges.
He was arrested at the city’s Charles de Gaulle airport on Wednesday while trying to board a plane to Dakar, Senegal.
Referring to Brunel, a French prosecuting source said on Saturday: “The suspect has been placed under examination for the rape of minors, and for sexual harassment.”
Mr Brunel is suspected of having been part of a global underage sex ring organised by the late American multi-billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who financed MC2 Model Management, founded by Mr Brunel.
Epstein died in a New York prison last year as he awaited trial over allegations he had run a network using underage girls for sex.
Epstein was a fund manager with a multi-million dollar fortune and an extensive global portfolio of properties, including an apartment in Paris.
Last year, French prosecutors opened an inquiry into rape and sexual assault allegations against Epstein to focus on potential crimes committed against French victims and on suspects who are French citizens, they said at the time.
US prosecutors have accused Mr Brunel – a close friend of Epstein – of procuring young girls for him.
French police last year raided the offices of Karin Models, an agency founded by Mr Brunel, as well as Epstein’s flat near the Arc de Triomphe.
Last year Mr Brunel’s lawyer rejected reports that her client was on the run, and said he was available for questioning.
Before his death, Epstein was charged in New York with sex trafficking and conspiracy and was awaiting trial.
He was already a convicted sex offender, having pleaded guilty to prostitution charges involving a minor in Florida in 2008.
Others under suspicion of being a part of Epstein’s sex ring include Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell.