German man appears in court to face 'child sex tour plan' charges

Michael Frank Hartung faces two charges of distributing information aimed at promoting commercial sex with minors.
Michael Frank Hartung faces two charges of distributing information aimed at promoting commercial sex with minors.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A senior Deutsche Bank executive met four men in Singapore and allegedly shared with them information promoting child sex activities in the Philippines.

However, Singapore permanent resident Michael Frank Hartung was unaware they were undercover police officers and he was later arrested, a court heard on Wednesday (May 2).

The 46-year-old German national, who is no longer an employee of the bank, appeared in court on the first day of his trial to face two charges of distributing information aimed at promoting commercial sex with minors.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim said that in April 2015, Singapore police received information that Hartung was suspected of being involved in "deviant sexual activities". He had allegedly exchanged obscene photos of women and young girls with other netizens.

DPP Lim told District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam: "Following further investigations, police became concerned that the accused was involved in planning trips overseas to engage in sexual activities with minors. Police thus began to plan an undercover operation to conduct further in-depth investigations into the accused."

The identities of the four policemen cannot be revealed due to a gag order.

One of them, an assistant superintendent from the Criminal Investigation Department, began communicating with Hartung through the Yahoo online messaging service in June 2015. With "Jackson Fong" as his pseudonym, the officer then asked Hartung to plan an overseas trip for himself and his friends, said the prosecutor.

DPP Lim said that the assistant superintendent also told Hartung that he would like to have sex with young virgin girls and the German indicated that he was able to plan the trip.

Two months later, Hartung allegedly got in touch with one Imelda Parado, his Skype contact, to inquire about the availability of such young girls in the Philippines.

The assistant superintendent and another undercover policeman, who is a superintendent, met the German at a Raffles City Shopping Centre cafe on Sept 26, 2015, the court heard.

DPP Lim said: "At that meeting, the accused distributed information... on engaging in child sex in the Philippines, discussed trip and payment details, and agreed that a trip to the Philippines be planned from between Oct 15 and 18, 2015."

Hartung did not contact the assistant superintendent after this meeting to finalise plans for the trip and the police then conducted a second undercover operation, the court heard.

Using another alias, the assistant superintendent contacted Hartung on a website that caters to people interested in sexual practices such as bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, and asked if he could plan a trip to find "young blood", DPP Lim said.

Hartung allegedly told the assistant superintendent that he could make the arrangements and proposed a meeting to discuss further plans.

The court heard that two other police officers, who called themselves Paul and Frank, met Hartung at a Mackenzie Road bar near Little India on April 15, 2016. The German then allegedly distributed to the pair information on child sex activities in the Philippines, including the prices they were expected to pay for such services.

However, Hartung did not contact them to finalise plans after this meeting, said DPP Lim.

Hartung is now out on bail of $15,000 and his trial will resume on Thursday.

Note: This story has been edited for clarity.