SINGAPORE, July 12 — A former senior bank executive was found guilty today of two charges of promoting overseas sex tours involving minors.
He had told undercover police officers that he would provide them with young “virgin girls”.
Michael Frank Hartung, a Singapore permanent resident from Germany, then denied that he had intended to plan trips for people to engage in underage sex in the Philippines.
During his trial, which spanned more than 20 days, the former Deutsche Bank executive claimed that he had been seeking legitimate business opportunities with the undercover officers. He said that he had “played along” with their interests and given them information so as not to offend them.
Nevertheless, Hartung did not deny meeting the officers and giving them information about the sex tours. Deputy Public Prosecutors Marshall Lim and Andre Ong said that his defence was “in actual fact attempts to downplay his culpability”.
The four officers, whose real names cannot be revealed, posed as potential clients using the aliases Michael, Jackson, Paul and Frank. Hartung began chatting with Jackson on the Yahoo! online messaging service, before meeting him and Michael in person.
Hartung, who is married, will return to the State Courts on August 15 to be sentenced. He remains out on S$15,000 (RM45,365) bail.
For each charge, he could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined, or both.
The first operation
Hartung was caught following two undercover operations, which the police set up when they received information that he was involved in deviant sexual activities.
In June 2015, Jackson — an officer from the Criminal Investigation Department — began using the Yahoo! online messaging service to chat with Hartung.
He told Hartung he wanted to go abroad for a “low profile” tour to engage in commercial sex with “virgin girls”, eventually asking for girls between 15 and 16 years old.
Hartung then invited him to meet in person to discuss details. In August, he got in touch with a contact on messaging service Skype to ask whether there were young girls available for sex in the Philippines.
The following month, Michael and Jackson met Hartung at a Starbucks cafe in Raffles City Shopping Centre. There, they discussed plans to engage in child sex in the Philippines.
Hartung told the officers that he could ask a middleman to make the necessary arrangements, and agreed to go to Manila two days in advance to “make sure everything is okay”.
He shared his personal experience with procuring young girls for sexual services, telling them they might encounter “disappointments” at first, but that it would “get easier over time” once they paid the middleman.
Hartung also told them he would provide six “virgin girls” aged between 14 and 16. He would facilitate their hotel stays, he added, and told them to arrange for their own flights.
They then agreed to plan a trip there between October 15 and 18 that year.
In early October, Hartung asked his Skype contact if he could provide young girls during that period. When it seemed that his contact could not do so, Hartung did not contact the police officers to finalise the plans.
The second sting
In a second undercover operation launched against Hartung later, the police found out that he was active on an online portal catering to those interested in deviant sexual practices and lifestyles. Members interacted using a chat system within the site.
One police officer created an account using the alias “Darkthrone” and began chatting with Hartung, who was going by the alias “Lord Protector”.
The officer told Hartung that he was an expatriate and a Singapore permanent resident, then asked if Hartung could plan a trip for “young blood”, which referred to young girls.
Hartung told the officer that he could arrange that and proposed a face-to-face meeting.
Two officers from the Volunteer Special Constabulary unit, posing as Paul and Frank, then met Hartung at a bar on Mackenzie Road in April 2016.
He gave them several pieces of advice. For instance, he told them that going to Cambodia for sexual services with minors was more dangerous than going to the Philippines, and warned them on the potential difficulties of procuring young girls aged 13 to 17. It would be easier to get girls aged between six and 12 if it was school or examination time, he added.
They also discussed expected prices, estimated dates for the trip and payment details.
After that, Hartung did not contact them again to finalise plans for the trip. He was arrested on August 30, 2016.
The police searched his Simei Green condominium and seized 37 items related to his offences, but found nothing in his office. — TODAY