PR guilty of sharing info promoting child-sex acts

Singapore permanent resident Michael Frank Hartung is expected to be sentenced on Aug 15.
Singapore permanent resident Michael Frank Hartung is expected to be sentenced on Aug 15.

A senior bank executive formerly with Deutsche Bank met four other men in Singapore and shared with them information to promote child sex activities in the Philippines.

German national Michael Frank Hartung, 48, who used to earn $250,000 a year, was unaware that the other men were undercover police officers.

After a trial of more than 20 days, District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam found the Singapore permanent resident guilty yesterday of two counts of distributing such information to the men, identified only as Michael, Jackson, Paul and Frank. Their real names were not revealed in court documents.

In giving his verdict, the judge said the messages that Hartung had sent were "very revealing" and "incriminating of (his) conduct".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim told the court during the trial that in April 2015, the Singapore police received information that Hartung was suspected of being involved in "deviant sexual activities". Officers then planned an undercover operation as part of investigations.

The court heard that Jackson began communicating with Hartung through the Yahoo online messaging service two months later.

In their submissions, DPPs Lim and Andre Ong stated that Jackson told Hartung he wanted to go overseas for a "low-profile" tour to engage in commercial sex with girls who were "young" and "inexperienced", and asked the German to organise the trip.

 
 
 

The court heard that Hartung met Jackson and Michael in a cafe in Raffles City Shopping Centre on Sept 26, 2015 and told them he had access to local contacts in the Philippines. The DPPs added that Hartung agreed to go to Manila two days before the men were supposed to arrive there to "make sure everything is okay".

Hartung also communicated with a man known as Darkthrone in an online portal for people into bondage, domination and sadomasochism (BDSM). It turned out that Darkthrone was Jackson, who told him that he "liked young blood between 14 and 18" and shared his difficulties in finding them in Singapore.

Hartung agreed and commented: "Philippines, Cambodia much easier. But take (some) time to travel."

He then invited Darkthrone to meet for coffee and "share some ideas and (tips)" before meeting Paul and Frank at a Mackenzie Road pub near Little India on April 15, 2016.

Hartung also revealed that he had access to a middleman in the Philippines to facilitate the arrangements, and shared his personal experience with procuring young girls for sexual services, the court heard.

Hartung is now out on bail of $15,000 and is expected to be sentenced on Aug 15.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2019, with the headline 'PR guilty of sharing info promoting child-sex acts'. Print Edition | Subscribe