19 January 2018
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11 charged over theft of $2m in fuel from Shell

Straits Times
10 Jan 2018
Elena Chong

Case is biggest of its kind in recent memory; eight accused are current or ex-staff of firm

Eleven men were charged yesterday in connection with the misappropriation of fuel worth more than $2 million from Shell Singapore.

The case is believed to be the biggest of its kind in recent memory at an oil refinery. Nine Singaporeans were charged along with two Vietnamese nationals.

Of the nine, eight are employees or former staff of Shell Eastern Petroleum who are alleged to have committed criminal breach of trust at its manufacturing site.

The nine are: Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram, 36; Juandi Pungot, 41; Cai Zhi Zhong, 35; Tiah Kok Hwee, 41; Koh Choon Wei, 35; Muhammad Ali Muhammad Nor, 51; Mohd Ibrahim K. Abdul Majid, 52; Abdul Latif Ibrahim, 59; and Richard Goh Chee Keong, 48.

Only Cai, Koh and Goh were represented by lawyers. Mohd Ibrahim said he intends to engage one.

Muzzafar Ali, Juandi, Cai, Tiah and Koh allegedly conspired with one another to misappropriate 1,260 metric tonnes of gas oil worth $687,960 entrusted to Tiah and Koh by the company at about 7pm on Sunday.

The five are also said to have engaged in a conspiracy by abetting to misappropriate 2,322 metric tonnes of gas oil worth $1.3 million at Pulau Bukom on Nov 21 last year.

Muhammad Ali similarly faces a charge of abetment by conspiracy with Muzaffar Ali, Tiah, Cai and Koh to misappropriate 1,260 metric tonnes of gas oil in the early hours of Sunday.

Mohd Ibrahim, Abdul Latif and Goh are alleged to have abetted in a conspiracy to dishonestly misappropriate 801.86 metric tonnes of gas oil worth $437,816 between 6.50pm and 8.05pm last Friday.

In another court, Vietnamese nationals, Nguyen Duc Quang, 46, and Dang Van Hanh, 37, are accused of abetment by conspiracy to dishonestly receive about 1,260 metric tonnes of oil which they had reason to believe was stolen.

The charge further states that the oil was transferred from Pulau Bukom to a vessel called Prime South at Pulau Bukom on Sunday.

The 11 were among 17 suspects arrested in an operation conducted by the authorities between Sunday and Monday after the company made a report in August last year.

During simultaneous raids islandwide, police seized, among other things, cash amounting to about $3.05 million and a tanker weighing approximately 12,000 tonnes.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew sought a week's remand at Central division for all 11 men, saying there are likely to be further charges. Investigations are ongoing.

District Judge Christopher Goh adjourned the nine men's case to Jan 15, while District Judge Adam Nakhoda fixed the Vietnamese nationals' case for mention on Jan 16.

A Shell spokesman told The Straits Times on Monday that the men arrested included "a limited number of Shell employees".

"Shell reported a suspected theft to the authorities after we became aware that we may have been the victim of a crime," said the spokesman. "We anticipate a short delay in the supply operations at Bukom, but at this point, we expect to continue to meet our contractual supply obligations to customers."

The spokesman added that all Shell employees are expected to comply with the company's code of conduct and uphold the highest standards of ethical behaviour.

"Breaches are not tolerated and carry serious consequences, up to and including dismissal," he said.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.