A prominent Singapore businessman on Wednesday pleaded guilty to having sex with an underage prostitute in a scandal which has shaken the city-state's elite.
Howard Shaw, 41, a grandson of Asian movie mogul Runme Shaw and a former environmental activist, was charged in April for having paid sex with a 17-year-old call girl in October 2010.
Prostitution is legal in Singapore, but 48 men ranging in age from their early 20s to late 40s have so far been charged under a 2008 law making it a crime to pay for sex with a woman under 18.
The list includes businessmen, civil servants and uniformed officers and the maximum sentence is seven years in prison and a fine.
"I plead guilty, your honour," a haggard-looking Shaw told Judge See Kee Oon during a hearing of his case at a district court.
His lawyer Harpreet Singh Nehal argued that Shaw deserved a light sentence as he had made "an honest and reasonable mistake as to the minor's age".
"As a matter of legal principle, a person who commits an act under an honest and reasonable mistake is not regarded as having a criminal intent. The law treats him as mentally blameless," Singh said in court.
Shaw, who is married to a former beauty pageant contestant and has two daughters from a previous marriage, is the fourth man to be convicted for having paid sex with the same call girl.
His case will be heard again in late July.
The prostitute's services were advertised on a now defunct sex website and her name cannot be published because she was a minor when the offences were committed.
A former elementary school principal who also admitted to the offence has already been sentenced to nine weeks in jail.
Five foreigners are also accused of having sex with her, among them Juerg Buergin, a 40-year-old Swiss expatriate who had worked for banking giant UBS.
Singapore has long been perceived as a conservative, even prudish, society but it has a thriving sex industry dating back to its beginnings as a key trading port of the British empire.
The underage call-girl scandal has shone a spotlight on Singapore's pragmatic approach to prostitution, which involves regulating the sex trade to protect minors and curbing criminal involvement in the industry.