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BP Singapore bunker trial: Prosecution and Defence present submissions (Part 1)

Submissions were the main focus of Tuesday’s trial involving the former BP Singapore Regional Marine Manager and executive director of Pacific Prime Trading.

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Manifold Times was present at the BP Singapore bunker trial on Tuesday. The following report is part one (of two) focusing on submissions from Clarence Chang and Koh Seng Lee’s defence attorneys; part two which covers submissions from the public prosecutor will be published in a separate article on 9 August.

Submissions of the prosecution and defence were the main focus of Tuesday’s trial involving former BP Singapore Regional Marine Manager Clarence Chang and Koh Seng Lee, the sole shareholder and executive director of Pacific Prime Trading (PPT), at the State Courts of Singapore.

Chang was facing 20 charges for allegedly accepting bribes totalling USD $3.95 million from Koh between the period of July 31, 2006 and July 26, 2010.

Defence submissions of Koh Seng Lee
Chelva Retnam Rajah, Partner of Tan Rajah & Cheah, who represents Koh explained there was no “obvious advantage” for his client to participate in such an activity.

He said PPT participating in a back-to-back arrangement with BP, where PPT buys bunker fuel oil from BP, bore the risk of fluctuating oil prices.

“In coming to this arrangement BP cushioned themselves completely from the risk of price fluctuations,” says Rajah.

“Now, the allegation is that this back-to-back arrangement was to PPT's obvious advantage but what was this obvious advantage?

“That has not been spelled out because if BP read the market wrongly it was PPT that will be exposed to fluctuations in oil [prices].”

Rajah moved on to address evidence found from the Function for Approval Department of BP, which pointed out Chang offered advantages to PPT due to it being the oil major’s biggest counterparty.

“If that biggest counterparty does not know its business and doesn’t trade properly he will not get the biggest advantage [instead] he will get biggest losses as the counterparty is taking all the risk and there was no obvious advantage in this arrangement that gives you the opportunity to make a lot of money and also opportunity to lose a lot of money,” he said.

“Mr Koh was prepared to do that. Why was he selected in the first place? Mr Koh got the opportunity as he has been long in the business and he was given the opportunity as he was able to run the business successfully.”

Rajah also questioned the alleged bribes which Chang received from Koh, as the first bribe was paid to Chang in July 2006 – five years after PPT started business with BP in 2001.

“In those five years not a single dollar was paid to Clarence [Chang] if this was a plan from the start as alleged by the prosecution then one would have thought the reasonable time to withdraw payments [for inducement for business from 2001] but the payments started in 2006 and that scenario does not fit,” he says.

Rajah further noted PPT’s profit and loss accounts from 2005 to 2009 showed Koh paid Chang more than what the company earned during the period. Overall, BP was the entity which ultimately gained from commercial dealings between Chang and Koh.

“Finally, has BP suffered any loss on these transactions? No! In fact, it has achieved risk free oil deals and in those circumstances we submit to the first accused [Koh] that the essential elements of the crime and charge relating to the money paid to advance the interest of PPT and BP, and these monies were paid with corrupt motive, as not been brought out by any of the evidence.” he said.

Defence submissions of Clarence Chang 
Andre Maniam, Senior Counsel at WongPartnership, presenting Chang highlighted the prosecution may want to reframe charges against his client due to his employment status with BP during certain dates.

According to him, Chang was “charged in 26 July 2010 in Singapore being an agent of BP marine fuels”.  However, Chang was neither an employee nor an agent of BP after 9 July 2010 as he has already left the company.

“The problem is […] much more fundamental. Does this even fit into the case theory? After he left BP, he corruptly obtained gratification from someone he is not employed with. There is no evidence as there is none,” he said.

Maniam pointed out the prosecution’s portrayal of Chang allegedly taking a share of PPT profits as flawed because “a share of PPT profits cannot be more than PPT’s profits.”

“As in the prosecution’s case these were bribes. Mr Rajah says these bribes doesn’t make sense as in the first year Mr Koh was giving away almost all the profits [of PPT]. By March 2008 to March 2010, he had given more than what his business makes.”

Maniam further questioned the reliability of BP bunker trade data being used against his client due to the selective omission of marine gas oil (MGO) sales figures from Malaysia and non-Singapore ports.

“So what if PPT was the largest counterparty? Is it a reasonable reason to believe there was corruption? There was no evidence. If Koh was not good at what he did, he did not deserve the volumes being transacted with him. The fact is BP continued to transact with PPT some five years after Clarence Chang left,” he says.

“It is entirely unsafe to draw if PPT was the largest counterparty and if the share increased then there must be corruption.”

Chang’s suggestion to use Vermont UM Bunkering as an additional counterparty for BP, when PPT was not performing well in 2009, also went against the nature of his role in the case, Maniam said.

“Clarence Chang was getting money from Mr Koh supposedly to keep PPT business with BP going on and he was not getting anything from Vermont. Instead of doing supposedly what he was bribed to do, he brings in a new party where Mr Koh has a share and he gets nothing from Vermont,” said Maniam. 

“It all doesn’t make sense. It only makes sense in the prosecution’s case theory if he kept Vermont out of it and he maximised PPT as he was bribed to do.”

Related: BP Singapore bunker bribery case update: BP bunker trade data in question
RelatedBP Singapore bunker bribery case update: CPIB officer takes to the stand
RelatedUPDATE: BP Singapore bunker bribery case
RelatedBP Singapore bunker bribery case continues

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 8 August, 2018

 

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Business

Singapore: Bunker firm Sea Hub Energy to be wound up voluntarily

Development comes following directors, Lim and Ang, lodging a SD stating the firm cannot continue its business due to liabilities; Ang was sentenced a 35-month imprisonment in 2021 for MFM systems tampering.

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RESIZED Sea Hub Energy

Sea Hub Energy Pte Ltd (Sea Hub), a company formerly in the business of chartering and trading of marine fuels at Singapore port, will be wound up as a Creditors’ Voluntary Winding Up, according to a Government Gazette notice published on Monday (15 April).

This came following an Extraordinary General Meeting held on 5 April.

The Special Resolution set out below were duly passed:

  • That the company be wound up as a Creditors’ Voluntary Winding Up pursuant to Section 160(1)(b) of the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018 and that Tan Wei Cheong and Lim Loo Khoon, both care of Deloitte & Touche LLP, 6 Shenton Way, OUE Downtown 2, #33-00 Singapore 068809, be appointed as the Joint and Several Liquidators (the Liquidators) for the purpose of the winding up.
  • That the Liquidators be at liberty to exercise all or any of the powers conferred on them pursuant to the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018.

Manifold Times previously reported directors of Sea Hub lodging a statutory declaration (SD) stating that the company cannot continue its business due to its liabilities.

In the SD lodged on 5 March, the directors, Lim Seet Huat and Ang Heng Lye, said the meetings of the company and its creditors have been summoned for 5 April 2024, being a date within one month of the date of the SD.

In June 2021, the State Courts of the Republic of Singapore issued Ang a 35-month imprisonment sentence, due to his role in a conspiracy to tamper with the mass flow metering (MFM) systems on board Singapore bunker tankers Southernpec 6 and Southernpec 7 between October 2018 to April 2019.

During the period of offence, Ang was employed as a consultant at Ocean Express Pte Ltd; around June 2018, Ang was acting as a consultant and partner of Success Energy Service Pte Ltd.

Lim, who founded Sea Hub in 2007, is a 70% shareholder of the company where he also works as its Shipping Director overseeing vessel management and chartering operations; the remaining 30% shareholding of the firm belongs to Trading Director Ang.

Related: Singapore: First creditors meeting scheduled for bunker firm Sea Hub Energy
Related: Singapore: Directors of troubled Sea Hub Energy declare inability to continue business
Related: Magnets on MFMs: Trial ends with 35-month imprisonment sentence for Director of Seahub Energy
Related: Singapore: Imprisonment of Sea Hub Energy Director ‘unrelated to company integrity’, says majority shareholder
Related: Sea Hub Energy seeks US$12 million from Southernpec at Singapore High Court
Related: Singapore: Sea Hub Energy exits MPA bunker craft operator list
Related: OFAC adds Singapore-registered “Sea Tanker II” to sanctions list

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 19 April 2024

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Winding up

Singapore: Annual general meetings scheduled for Xihe Holdings subsidiary

Annual general meetings will be held on 26 April for Xin Bo Shipping to receive an update on firm’s liquidation, according to Government Gazette notice.

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RESIZED Jo_Johnston from Pixabay

A notice was published on the Government Gazette on Thursday (11 April) regarding the annual general meetings to be held on 26 April for Xihe Holdings subsidiary Xin Bo Shipping (Pte) Ltd.

Annual general meetings for Xin Bo Shipping are to be held at the following times:

For the company: 2pm
For the creditors: 3pm

The agenda for all the meetings are:

  1. To receive an update on the liquidation.
  2. To receive an account of the Liquidators’ acts and dealings, and of the conduct of the winding up.

The following are the details of the liquidator:

Ho May Kee
Liquidator
c/o 8 Marina View
#40-04/05 Asia Square Tower 1
Singapore 018960

Xihe Holdings Pte Ltd and its subsidiaries are owned by the Lim family, who are also the owners of the embattled Hin Leong Trading.

Related: Singapore: Xihe Holdings subsidiaries Xin Bo Shipping, An Guang Shipping to be wound up
Related: Singapore: Creditors to file debt claims for Xin Bo Shipping by 14 June
Related: Xihe Holdings subsidiary Xin Bo Shipping placed under judicial management
Related: JMs of An Guang Shipping and other Xihe subsidiaries call for creditors meeting

 

Photo credit: Jo_Johnston from Pixabay
Published: 12 April 2024

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Crime

Malaysia: MMEA seizes tugboat and tanker lorry for illegal fuel transfer

MMEA successfully apprehended a Myanmar national who was captain of ship and four crew members comprising two Indonesians, one Myanmar national and a local citizen, as well as a tanker lorry driver.

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Malaysia: MMEA seizes tugboat and tanker lorry for illegal fuel transfer

The Tawau Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Tuesday (9 April) detained a tugboat and a tanker lorry that were found to be carrying out an illegal fuel transfer in the waters of Tanjung Batu, Tawau.

MMEA Tawau Zone Director Shahrizan Raman said patrol boats received information from Tawau Maritime Zone intelligence unit regarding the operation at Komsa Tanjung Batu jetty at around 2.10 am.

Patrol boats that arrived at the scene found a tanker lorry on the jetty transferring about 10,000 litres of fuel to a tugboat.

Malaysia: MMEA seizes tugboat and tanker lorry for illegal fuel transfer

During the raid, MMEA successfully apprehended a Myanmar national who was the ship captain and four crew members comprising two Indonesians, one Myanmar national and a local citizen. The tanker lorry driver, a local, was also arrested in the operation.

All suspects were men and aged 32 to 57 years. MMEA added an inspection of their documents found no authorisation permits related to the fuel transfer activity.

MMEA said the boat and tanker lorry were seized with their fuel cargo before being escorted to the Tawau Maritime Zone Jetty for further investigation.

Malaysia: MMEA seizes tugboat and tanker lorry for illegal fuel transfer

The value of the seized items and fuel was estimated to be almost MYR 250,000.

This case is being investigated under the Customs Act 1967, Control of Supplies Act 1961 and Petroleum Development Act 1974. 

 

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 15 April 2024

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