Juerg Buergin, a former UBS AG executive on trial for sex with an underage prostitute in Singapore, sought the services of at least 10 other women whose ages show he wasn’t seeking younger escorts, his lawyer said.
The other women, hired out by the pimp who controlled the underaged prostitute identified through her moniker “Chantelle,” were between 20 and 43 years old, Buergin’s lawyer Selva Naidu said in a Singapore subordinate court today.
Buergin, who used the name Robert James to communicate with the pimp, is the first of 51 men charged by police for having paid sex with the girl 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.
“Apart from Chantelle, Robert James had engaged the services of other escorts,” Naidu said in court when he cross-examined the pimp, adding that her online advertisement stated she was 18 and new to the escort trade.
Buergin met the women from Sept. 29, 2010 to Nov. 7, 2011 in the city’s luxury hotels including St. Regis, Conrad and Mandarin Oriental arranged by pimp Tang Boon Thiew, Naidu said. The 41-year-old Swiss national, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of underaged commercial sex, was a victim of a conspiracy between Chantelle and Tang, who misled him into believing she was 18, Naidu said.
Tang, 39, said on the stand today that he did tell Buergin that Chantelle was 18, adding that he wasn’t aware of Singapore’s laws against commercial sex with a minor. Tang is serving his jail term of 58 months after being convicted of vice-related charges. He’s appealing his sentence. Chantelle is now 20.
“I wasn’t aware that Chantelle was under 18 on the first occasion,” Tang said in court. “I did tell Robert James that she was 18. She was two months shy of 18” in January 2011.
Buergin was married with two children at the time of the offences, according to the prosecutors. He declined further comment when approached by reporters today. 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.