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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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Former CEO of Singapore-listed New Silkroutes Group amongst three others facing 31 charges at court

Dr Goh Jin Hian was the ex-Director of former Singapore bunker supplier and bunker craft operator Inter-Pacific Petroleum; he faced a USD 156 million civil trial at the Singapore High Court in April 2023.





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Former Chief Executive Officer of Singapore-listed New Silkroutes Group Limited (NSG), Dr Goh Jin Hian, former Chief Corporate Officer, Oo Cheong Kwan Kelvyn, and former Finance Director, Teo Thiam Chuan William, were charged in court on Wednesday (20 September) with false trading offences under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA).

A fourth individual, Huang Yiwen, the sole director of GTC Group Pte Ltd (a commercial market maker engaged by NSG during the material time), was also charged with similar offences.

The four men were each charged with 31 counts of Section 197(1)(b) of the SFA read with Section 109 of the Penal Code for engaging in a conspiracy to create a misleading appearance with respect to the price of NSG securities.

They allegedly placed orders and executed trades in NSG securities for a purpose of pushing up the price of NSG securities on 31 trading days between 26 February 2018 and 27 August 2018. The alleged price manipulative orders and trades include share buy-backs conducted through NSG’s corporate trading account.

Dr Goh faces a further eight counts of Section 197(1)(b) of the SFA for allegedly placing orders and executing trades in NSG securities through his personal trading account for a purpose of pushing up the price of NSG securities on eight trading days between 31 August 2018 and 4 December 2018.

The charges above arose from a joint investigation carried out by the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force and the Monetary Authority of Singapore which started in September 2020.

If convicted of an offence under Section 197 of the SFA, offenders may be liable to an imprisonment term not exceeding seven years, or a fine not exceeding $250,000, or both.

Inter-Pacific Petroleum

Dr Goh, who was the ex-Director of former Singapore bunker supplier and bunker craft operator Inter-Pacific Petroleum (IPP), in April 2023 faced a USD 156 million civil trial initiated by IPP liquidator Deloitte & Touche over alleged breach of his director’s duties for IPP.

The Singapore branch of Maybank and Societe Generale (SocGen), both IPP’s largest creditors, are respectively looking to recover from exposure of an estimated USD 88.3 million and USD 81.3 million.

Reportedly, Dr Goh has said it was not the responsibility of the director to authenticate documents from management and he disputes against the banks’ own due diligence and credit risk assessments.

International Energy Group 

NSG in late March 2019 announced subsidiary New Silkroutes Capital signing a share sale and purchase agreement with Hong Kong-based TK Energy Limited for the disposal of the entire shareholding interests in International Energy Group Pte. Ltd. (IEG) for US $10 million in cash.

Singapore-headquartered IEG, which trades mainly gas oil and fuel oil, sells its products to international counterparties including oil majors and national oil companies.

In January 2021, stakeholders of IEG decided the firm can no longer continue business due to its liabilities and proceeded to summon a creditors’ meeting.

A meeting to distribute intended dividend to IEG creditors was later held in March 2023.

A timeline organised list of events preceding the current development of Inter-Pacific Petroleum has been recorded by Manifold Times below:

Related: Singapore: Civil trial between Inter-Pacific Petroleum and Dr Goh Jin Hian begins
Related: Former Singapore Director of Inter-Pacific Petroleum sued for USD 156 million
Related: Inter-Pacific Petroleum creditors authorised to fund lawsuit against former Director
RelatedNew Silkroutes under investigation over possible breach of Securities and Futures Act
Related: Judicial Managers considering to take former Singapore Director of Inter-Pacific Petroleum to court
Related: Singapore: Inter-Pacific Group receives winding up order from High Court
Related: Singapore: Inter-Pacific Group files for winding up application at High Court
Related: MPA revokes Inter-Pacific Petroleum Pte Ltd bunker supplier licence
Related: Co-heads of Trade and Commodities Finance for Asia-Pacific leave SocGen
Related: Inter-Pacific Group, Inter-Pacific Petroleum to hold creditors’ meet
Related: NewOcean detains Singapore-flagged bunker tanker “Pacific Energy 28”
Related: SocGen lawsuit against NewOcean Petroleum dropped, party to counterclaim
Related: MPA revokes Inter-Pacific Petroleum bunker craft operator licence
Related: Magnets on MFMs: Trial starts for former bunker clerk of “Consort Justice
Related: First suspect charged over MFM tampering in landmark case
Related: With nearly $180 million of debt, IPP proposes interim judicial management
Related: Inter-Pacific Group, Inter-Pacific Petroleum under judicial management
Related: Magnets on MFMs: “Consort Justice” crew pleads ‘not guilty’ to tampering charge
Related: IPP responds to temporary suspension of bunker craft operator licence
Related: MPA temporarily suspends IPP bunker craft operator licence
Related: Singapore: Bunker Cargo officer, crew face charges over alleged MFM tampering

A timeline organised list of events preceding events of International Energy Group is as follows:

Related: New Silkroutes under investigation over possible breach of Securities and Futures Act
Related: Singapore: Gas oil, fuel oil trading firm IEG disposed for $10 million
Related: Singapore: International Energy Group to be wound up; calls for creditors meeting
Related: Singapore: Liquidator issues notice of intended dividend to IEG creditors

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 21 September, 2023

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Winding up

Singapore: AGM and creditors meeting scheduled for An Hui Shipping, Nan Yi Maritime

Purpose of the AGMs is for stakeholders to receive an update on the liquidation, and for creditors to receive an account of the liquidators’ acts and dealings.






An annual general meeting (AGM) and creditors meeting has been scheduled for An Hui Shipping Pte Ltd and Nan Yi Maritime (Pte) Ltd, said their liquidator on a Tuesday (19 September) Government Gazette post.

The event will be held on 3 October; timing as follows:

  • AGM of An Hui Shipping (10:00am)
  • AGM for creditors of An Hui Shipping (11:00am)
  • AGM of Nan Yi Maritime (2:00pm)
  • AGM for creditors of Nan Yi Maritime (3:00pm)

The purpose of the AGMs is for stakeholders to receive an update on the liquidation, and for creditors to receive an account of the liquidators’ acts and dealings, and of the conduct of the winding up.

Details of the liquidator for both An Hui Shipping and Nan Yi Maritime are as follows:

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

Photo credit: Benjamin Child
Published: 21 September 2023

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South African Revenue Service issues media statement on detention of bunkering vessels

Detentions of bunker barges done in the normal course of investigating whether provisions of the Customs and Excise Act have been contravened, says SARS.





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The South African Revenue Service (SARS) on Wednesday (20 September) issued a media statement concerning the detention of five vessels involved in the fuel bunkering supply chain:

From 2016 SARS has been engaging with the fuel industry to encourage compliance with the legislation concerning the importation, the trading in and other operational activities of vessels engaged in the supply of fuel.

Alongside these engagements, SARS has also been conducting investigations around compliance in fuel bunkering, and the detention of the vessels mentioned in the media article is part of this on-going investigation.

SARS confirms that several vessels were detained in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 91 of 1964. This was done in the normal course of investigating whether the provisions of the Act have been contravened. SARS is of the view that the detention is lawful and, as the investigation is ongoing, no decision to seize such vessels has been taken.

SARS Commissioner Mr Edward Kieswetter said “SARS is obliged to administer the law fairly, without fear, favour or prejudice and to conduct investigations in a responsible manner in accordance with a fair procedure. SARS has no interest in jeopardising economic growth nor of contributing to the problem of unemployment, poverty and inequality.”

The Commissioner implored taxpayers and traders to comply with their tax and Customs obligations. He emphasised that SARS will not hesitate to act firmly and robustly to ensure that non-compliance is hard and costly for those that wilfully and intentionally ignore their obligations. The clarion call to all taxpayers and traders is: “comply or face the consequences”.

Related: ENGINE: Algoa Bay bunkering at a standstill as authority detains barges – sources

Photo credit: steve pb from Pixabay
Published: 21 September, 2023

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