German insurer starts probe into sex party allegations

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A German insurance firm that admitted its top salesmen took part in a sex party with prostitutes during a company junket to Budapest said Monday it was probing allegations that it was not a one-off.

"We are extremely sure that since 2007 there have been no other cases," Alexandra Klemme, a spokeswoman for Ergo, told AFP. As to before 2007, "we are looking into it."

The company said Thursday that around 20 prostitutes were present at the 2007 event that turned Budapest's popular Gellert Baths into a brothel for the night but stressed it was a "serious breach of company regulations."

The Handelsblatt business daily on Monday quoted unnamed salesmen as saying that the practice went back decades at Hamburger Mannheimer International (HMI), which sells Ergo insurance products.

The paper said prostitutes were regular guests at management conferences.

Ergo chief executive Torsten Oletzky told the Spiegel weekly meanwhile that the 2007 event at the Gellert Baths in Budapest had cost 83,000 euros ($117,000).

"Believe me, this is all unbelievably embarrassing, and definitely not typical," Oletzky said, adding that the three-day trip to the Hungarian capital was organised by an external event agency.

Handelsblatt quoted one unnamed participant as saying that the guests were able to take the women to four-poster beds at the spa "and do whatever they liked."

"After each such encounter the women were stamped on the lower arm in order to keep track of how often each woman was frequented," the paper quoted the man as saying.

"The women wore red and yellow wristbands," he added. "One lot were hostesses, the others would fulfil your every wish.

"There were also women with white wristbands. They were reserved for board members and the very best sales reps."

The Bild am Sonntag tabloid on Sunday quoted a woman who said she was one of those hired for the evening for which she was paid around 400 euros.

"At the beginning it wasn't a wild orgy. At first the men were even a bit shy. But the more alcohol was drunk, the more this changed," she said.

"I refused to get intimate with old or fat people," but with others she "did what was asked of me."

Klemme, the spokeswoman, said Monday that the company was "looking at the options available to deal with those responsible at the time."

"This includes considering legal steps," she told AFP.

© 2011 AFP

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