The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a news release stating that four persons are being charged with corrupt practices for conspiring to engage in illegal bunkering activity.
A Bunkering Deal Gone Awry
The bunkering industry in Singapore is a lucrative business with more than 65,000 bunkering operations taking place here every year. In 2012, Singapore was the world's top bunkering port with bunker sales volume of more than 42 million metric tons (mt). With the present high bunker prices, there is a high temptation for opportunistic individuals to take advantage of the chances to reap large profits and pay-offs.
Earlier this year, acting on information received of illegal bunkering activities, officers from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) conducted a joint operation involving a bunker barge, MT Ivory.
Subsequent investigations revealed that during a bunkering operation, four people came together to ensure that MT Ivory delivered a shortfall of marine fuel to the vessel - MT Front Splendor. The vessel had received less fuel than the amount of 2662.389 mt stated in the documents. The intent of this endeavor was to enable the buying back of the extra fuel.
The four accused persons are Antonov Sergey employed by M/s V Ships UK, as the Chief Engineer of the vessel MT Front Splendour; Jason Choo Soo Beng, Cargo Officer with Sea Hub Energy Pte Ltd, assigned to the bunker barge MT Ivory; Lam Tat Fei, a boatman also under the employment of Sea Hub Energy Pte Ltd; and Victor Loh Tuck Seng, a bunker surveyor working for M/s Saybolt Singapore Pte Ltd.
Investigations revealed that Antonov, the Chief Engineer had received a payment of $8,400 from Jason, the Cargo Officer to accept the short delivery of marine fuel. Antonov then gave a sum of $400 to Victor, the independent surveyor, to provide false verification. Victor further received $5,500 from Jason for the deal.
Investigations also revealed that Jason had given $200 to Tat Fei, the boatman who had obtained confirmation to proceed with the deal, and for delivering the amount of $18,000 to pay for the extra fuel resulting from the shortfall. To account for the extra fuel on board MT Ivory, Jason falsified a barge transfer advice and the stock movement logbook to indicate a bogus transfer of fuel from another vessel, MT Hai Soon X, to the MT Ivory. Please refer to the diagram (Annex A) attached for the relationships between the four accused persons.
Antonov Sergey will be charged with one count of corruptly obtaining a gratification of $8,400 (which is an offence under Section 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241); one count of corruptly giving a gratification of $400 to Victor (under Section 6(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241); and two counts of knowingly using false documents with the intent to deceive his employer, M/s V Ships (under Section 6(C) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, chapter 241).
Jason Choo Soo Beng will be charged with three counts of corruptly giving $5,500 to Victor; $8,400 to Antonov; and $200 to Tat Fei under Section 6(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241; and one count of knowingly using false documents to deceive M/s V Ships U.K. under Section 6(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241. In addition, Jason faces two charges of falsifying documents under Section 477A of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.
Lam Tat Fei will be charged with two counts of abetting by engaging in a conspiracy with Jason, under Section 6(b) read with Section 29(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241; and one count of corruptly accepting a gratification of $200 under Section 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241.
Victor Loh Tuck Seng will be charged with two counts of corruptly obtaining a gratification of $5,500 and $400 from Jason and Antonov respectively under Section 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241. In addition, Victor will also face one count of knowingly using false documents with the intent to deceive M/s V Ships UK under Section 6(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241.
All four accused persons will be charged in Court on May 15, 2013. The respective charges are attached (Annex B).
Singapore has always adopted a zero tolerance approach towards corruption and criminal activities. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) take a serious view of any corrupt practices in the bunkering industry, and will not hesitate to take action against any parties involved.