Ex-bank exec gets 12 weeks' jail for possession of obscene films, child pornography

SINGAPORE – During a police raid at the home of a former senior bank executive, DVDs and electronic devices containing 245 obscene films were seized.

Ten of these films contained child pornography, with some involving children possibly as young as four years old.

Michael Frank Hartung, a former employee of Deutsche Bank, was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail on Wednesday (July 15) after pleading guilty to two counts of possessing obscene films.

Two other charges of possessing films without a valid certificate were taken into consideration by Senior District Judge Bala Reddy during sentencing.

Hartung is currently serving a jail sentence of 5½ years for sharing information to promote child sex activities in the Philippines, of which he was convicted last year after a trial in the State Courts.

Court records show that the 49-year-old German national and Singapore permanent resident is appealing against that conviction and sentence.

During the trial last year, the court heard that Hartung distributed the information to four men without realising that they were undercover police officers.

The prosecution had said then that Hartung gave advice on possible destinations for a sex tour with minors overseas and shared his personal experience with procuring young girls for sexual services, among other things.

On Wednesday, the court heard that the police had seized various items, including mobile phones, laptops and 235 DVDs, in a raid on Hartung’s residence on August 30, 2016.

A total of 225 obscene films were found in 225 of the DVDs.

Seven of those films contained child abuse material, portraying prepubescent children engaged in sexual poses and activities with adults and other children.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Ong said that the films also showed close-up images of the children’s private parts.

An additional 20 obscene films, three of which feature adult men performing sexual acts on girls, were found in the electronic devices seized.

“The evidence revealed that some of the young girls could be as young as four years old, based on the filenames of the films as well as the appearance of the young girls,” DPP Ong said.

In urging the court to jail Hartung for at least 15 weeks, the DPP noted, among other things, the high degree of child sexual exploitation on at least 10 of the films and the “deeply depraved nature of the acts performed on the child victims”.

“The court must send out an unstinting message to all like-minded offenders or people who currently have child pornography in their possession that such videos are clearly deplorable and offenders who continue to keep child pornography will be severely dealt with,” he said in his written submissions.

In mitigation, Hartung’s lawyer, Mr Si HoeTat Chorng, said that his client had surrendered the DVDs voluntarily to the police during the raid.

He added that the DVDs were also in a “derelict” state and that the police had said the discs were unreadable.

The senior district judge ordered for Hartung’s new sentence to commence after he had served his current one.

For each charge of possessing obscene films, Hartung could have been jailed for up to six months and fined at least $500 per film, up to a total amount of $20,000.

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