A Pension Fund employee has been detained on suspicion of running a child prostitution ring together with Russia's "spam king," who is on trial over the case, Interfax reported Thursday.
Police searched the suspect's dacha outside Moscow and workplace in the city's southwest, seizing some incriminating evidence despite the man apparently wiping his computer's hard drive, said a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry's cybercrime department.
Police identified the man as a "high-ranking official" and said he was 41. A Pension Fund spokeswoman told Interfax that the man was a mid-tier technical support manager.
Police said the suspect is believed to have worked with Leonid Kuvayev, a one-time U.S. resident, who is on trial in Moscow's Savyolovsky District Court. Kuvayev, who was ranked the United States' second-worst spammer in 2006 by anti-spam software maker Spamhaus, has pleaded guilty to sex with underage teens but denied rape charges. Prosecutors say many of the teens were psychologically challenged wards of orphanages.
Investigators say Kuvayev and the Pension Fund employee scouted social networking sites, looking for underage teens who complained of poverty and inviting them to sell their bodies, Gazeta.ru
A spokeswoman for the Pension Fund said the man's co-workers were "shocked" by the allegations and added that he had few contacts with co-workers and did not work with the fund's clients, Interfax reported.
The suspect is not currently accused of having sex with minors, but could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of organizing a child prostitution ring and producing child pornography.
President Dmitry Medvedev introduced a bill to the State Duma last week that toughens penalties for child sex offenses and proposes voluntary chemical castration for convicted offenders. The bill is pending review.