Singapore court convicts ex-UBS banker of having sex with minor

Swiss national used phone issued by employer to hire under-age prostitute on two occasions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 2:07am

A Swiss former banker was yesterday found guilty of having sex with an under-age Singaporean prostitute in a case that caused a scandal as it involved several prominent men in the city state.

Juerg Buergin, 41, was found guilty by a district court of two charges of having sex with a 17-year-old call girl and will be sentenced next Wednesday.

Judge Eddy Tham said Buergin had failed to disprove the charges that he had sexual intercourse with the girl on two occasions in 2010 and 2011.

"I found that the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt all the essential ingredients of the two charges against the accused, and I accordingly find the accused guilty and convicted on both," he said.

I found that the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt all the essential ingredients of the two charges against the accused

Buergin, a married former executive with UBS, said at the start of his trial in March that he was tricked into thinking the girl was older than 17. Tang Boon Thiew, the pimp who arranged the escort, testified that he was not aware she was under 18 when he introduced her to Buergin.

However, the judge said: "It is also irrelevant if he was a victim of deception practised on him by the pimp or the minor."

Prostitution is legal in Singapore, but it is against the law to pay for sex with girls under 18.

The case caused an uproar last year after Buergin and 50 other men - including business executives, a former school principal, a navy captain and a police superintendent - were accused of paying for sex with the girl. One was socialite and environmental activist Howard Shaw, 41, a grandson of Asian movie mogul Runme Shaw. He was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail but released after eight for good behaviour.

Buergin was calm and showed no visible reaction after the verdict was read yesterday. State prosecutors asked for a sentence of "not less than six months" for each charge.

Court documents show that Buergin booked the prostitute on an escort agency's website and met her at luxury hotels for paid sex. He made the bookings under a false name, but the mobile phone number he used was traced to UBS, which had assigned the number to him, according to the documents.


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