21st man jailed in online vice ring case

A former underwriter was jailed on Friday for 12 weeks for engaging in commercial sex with a minor, becoming the 21st man to be sentenced in the online vice ring case.

Frederick Chen Kwek Kwong, 44, one of the 51 men charged last year with having paid sex with the 17-year-old girl, admitted committing the offence at Hotel 81 Bencoolen on Oct 1, 2010.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Yiwen told the court that the minor was among the "escorts" listed on a website operated by her pimp Tang Boon Thiew. She was given a working moniker and was described as an 18-year-old polytechnic student.

Investigations showed that Chen, a Singaporean father of two, came across the website in late 2010.

On Oct 1 that year, he booked the services of the minor by sending SMS text messages to Tang, who informed him that she was available and that her sexual services would cost him $450 per hour.

Chen booked a room at the hotel and informed Tang. The pimp then directed the minor to meet the accused, who did not verify her age before they had sex.

His sentencing came a week after Justice Choo Han Teck dismissed the appeals of two others involved in the case and who had been sentenced. Kenny Sim Choon Wee, 40, and Ng Guan Mean, 38, are serving eight and nine weeks' jail, respectively.

Before that, Swiss national Juerg Buergin, 42, who had also been convicted on two similar charges after a trial, also had his appeal against his conviction rejected. He served a four-month and three-week jail sentence.

Tang, the 39-year-old pimp, also lost his appeal against his sentence of 58 months' jail and a $90,000 fine in June.

All the 21 men who have been convicted so far have been given jail terms of between eight and 19 weeks.

The maximum penalty for the offence is seven years' jail and a fine.

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