Ex-UBS Executive Has to Defend Underage Sex Charges, Judge Says

Juerg Buergin, a former UBS AG (UBSN) executive, must face trial on charges he paid for sex with an underage prostitute in Singapore, a judge ruled.

Based on the evidence presented, the prosecution “has satisfied every ingredient of the charge,” Singapore subordinate courts judge Eddy Tham said at a hearing today.

Buergin, 41, entered a not guilty plea to two charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute at the Shangri-La Hotel in September 2010 and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in January 2011. The woman, now 20, was 17 at the time of the alleged offenses, according to prosecutors.

“I wish to give evidence,” Buergin said after being advised by the judge that he can remain silent or testify in his defense.

The Swiss national is the first of 51 men charged by police with paying for sex with the woman to stand trial. At least 18 men, including a member of the Shaw family that built an Asian movie production and real estate empire, have been convicted and jailed for as long as 16 weeks after admitting to paying for sex with a minor. Prosecutors said about 30 men may challenge the charges against them and stand trial.

Buergin, who used the name Robert James to communicate with the woman’s pimp, also sought the services of at least 10 other women between ages 20 and 43, his lawyer Selva Naidu has said. Buergin was a victim of a conspiracy between the underage prostitute, who used the moniker Chantelle, and her pimp, who misled him into believing she was 18, the lawyer said.

Text Message

“I wanted to protect my reputation,” Buergin said at today’s hearing, referring to why he used the name Robert James to communicate with the pimp. “I didn’t want the escort agency to know my real name.”

He said he texted the pimp using a mobile phone issued by UBS for work purposes.

Buergin said he left UBS in February last year and is now a businessman.

If found guilty, Buergin could face a jail term of as long as seven years and be fined for each charge.

The criminal case is Public Prosecutor v Buergin Juerg. DAC13762/2013. Singapore Subordinate Courts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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