Malaysian police have arrested the founder of a controversial "sugar daddy" dating website under anti-prostitution laws after it boasted thousands of young students were using the service, officials said Thursday.
Sugarbook bills itself as a site "where romance meets finance" and aims to link up older men with younger women, with the men expected to provide financial support for their companions.
But it sparked an uproar last week after releasing statistics purportedly showing thousands of students were using it to make money in the socially conservative country, leading one university to condemn the claims.
Police said they had arrested the 34-year-old founder of the site at a Kuala Lumpur condominium and he would appear in court.
They have launched an investigation under laws aimed at combating prostitution, which is illegal in Malaysia, and misusing the internet.
They did not name him but he is believed to be Darren Chan, whose social media profile describes him as the founder and CEO of Sugarbook.
Regulators had warned against using Sugarbook, with local media reporting that it had been blocked, although the site can still be accessed on some internet providers in Malaysia and downloaded as an Android app.
After this, Chan released a statement saying he believed "our Malaysian government knows what's best for the people".
But he added the site was taking "measures to ensure the ban does not happen in other countries".
Founded in 2016, Sugarbook says it has expanded to countries including Singapore, Thailand and the United States.
More than half of Malaysia's 32 million population are Muslims, and they are banned under Islamic law from having sex outside marriage.
The multi-ethnic country has a dual-track legal system with Muslims subject to sharia laws in certain areas.