Saturday, May 15, 2021

Former Shell employees involved in fuel theft charged with bribery

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Three former Shell Eastern Petroleum employees who are accused of being involved in a scheme to steal fuel from the petroleum giant’s Pulau Bukom refinery were charged in court on Tuesday (Feb 23) with corruption offences.

The men are accused of bribing employees of various surveying companies engaged by Shell to inspect vessels which Shell supplied fuel to, said the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). They were previously also charged over their alleged involvement in misappropriating fuel from Shell Bukom.

Former Shell staff members Juandi Pungot, 44 and Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram, 40, allegedly conspired to give bribes totalling about US$91,900 (S$121,600) to 10 employees of various surveying companies between 2014 and 2017. These were given as “rewards for refraining from accurately reporting the amount of gasoil loaded onto vessels which they were engaged to inspect”, said CPIB in a press release.

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Juandi and Muzaffar each faces 13 charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, of which seven charges were amalgamated.

The third employee, 51-year-old Richard Goh Chee Keong, allegedly gave bribes totalling about US$25,000 to three employees of various surveying companies between 2016 and 2017.

CPIB said the bribes were given as rewards or inducement “for refraining to accurately report the amount of gasoil loaded onto vessels which they were engaged to inspect”. Goh faces four charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Anyone convicted of a corruption offence can be fined up to S$100,000, jailed for up to five years, or both.

The trio are among almost a dozen Shell employees charged over the largest marine fuel heist from Shell’s Pulau Bukom refinery. Also implicated are employees of a major Singapore fuel supplier, a London-listed firm that certifies fuel quantities and a Vietnamese shipping company.

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Reuters reported in 2018 that about S$200 million worth of oil was stolen over several years from the Shell refinery, which is its largest petrochemical production and export centre in the Asia-Pacific.

“Singapore adopts a strict zero-tolerance approach towards corruption,” said CPIB.

“Companies are strongly advised to put in place robust procedures in areas such as procurement and internal audit to prevent falling victim to corrupt acts by their employees.”

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