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Glencore enters guilty pleas to foreign bribery and market manipulation schemes

Glencore International A.G. (Glencore) and Glencore Ltd. agreed to pay over USD 1.1 billion to resolve the government’s investigations into violations, says U.S. Department of Justice.

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Glencore International A.G. (Glencore) and Glencore Ltd., both part of a multinational commodity trading and mining firm headquartered in Switzerland, each pleaded guilty on Tuesday (24 May) and agreed to pay over USD 1.1 billion to resolve the government’s investigations into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and a commodity price manipulation scheme, said the U.S. Department of Justice. 

These guilty pleas are part of coordinated resolutions with criminal and civil authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Brazil.

Glencore Ltd. admitted to engaging in a multi-year scheme to manipulate fuel oil prices at two of the busiest commercial shipping ports in the U.S.

As part of the plea agreement, Glencore Ltd. agreed to pay a criminal fine of over $341 million, pay forfeiture of over $144 million, and retain an independent compliance monitor for three years.

The department has agreed to credit up to one-half of the criminal fine and forfeiture against penalties Glencore Ltd. pays to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in a related, parallel civil proceeding.

Sentencing has been scheduled in the market manipulation case for June 24, and a control date for sentencing in the FCPA case has been set for Oct. 3.

The Commodity Price Manipulation Case

According to admissions and court documents filed in the District of Connecticut, Glencore Ltd. operated a global commodity trading business, which included trading in fuel oil. Between approximately January 2011 and August 2019, Glencore Ltd. employees (including those who worked at Chemoil Corporation, which was majority-owned by Glencore Ltd.’s parent company and then fully-acquired in 2014) conspired to manipulate two benchmark price assessments published by S&P Global Platts (Platts) for fuel oil products, specifically, intermediate fuel oil 380 CST at the Port of Los Angeles (Los Angeles 380 CST Bunker Fuel) and RMG 380 fuel oil at the Port of Houston (U.S. Gulf Coast High-Sulfur Fuel Oil). The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest shipping port in the U.S. by container volume. The Port of Houston is the largest U.S. port on the Gulf Coast and the busiest port in the United States by foreign waterborne tonnage.

As part of the conspiracy, Glencore Ltd. employees sought to unlawfully enrich themselves and Glencore Ltd. itself, by increasing profits and reducing costs on contracts to buy and sell physical fuel oil, as well as certain derivative positions that Glencore Ltd. held. The price terms of the physical contracts and derivative positions were set by reference to daily benchmark price assessments published by Platts — either Los Angeles 380 CST Bunker Fuel or U.S. Gulf Coast High-Sulfur Fuel Oil — on a certain day or days plus or minus a fixed premium. On these pricing days, Glencore Ltd. employees submitted orders to buy and sell (bids and offers) to Platts during the daily trading “window” for the Platts price assessments with the intent to artificially push the price assessment up or down.

For example, if Glencore Ltd. had a contract to buy fuel oil, Glencore Ltd. employees submitted offers during the Platts “window” for the express purpose of pushing down the price assessment and hence the price of the fuel oil that Glencore Ltd. purchased. The bids and offers were not submitted to Platts for any legitimate economic reason by Glencore Ltd. employees, but rather for the purpose of artificially affecting the relevant Platts price assessment so that the benchmark price, and hence the price of fuel oil that Glencore Ltd. bought from, and sold to, another party, did not reflect legitimate forces of supply and demand.

Between approximately September 2012 and August 2016, Glencore Ltd. employees conspired to and did manipulate the price of fuel oil bought from, and sold to, a particular counterparty, Company A, through private, bilateral contracts, by manipulating the Platts price assessment for Los Angeles 380 CST Bunker Fuel. Between approximately January 2014 and February 2016, Glencore Ltd. employees also undertook a “joint venture” with Company A, which involved buying fuel oil from Company A at prices artificially depressed by Glencore Ltd.’s manipulation of the Platts Los Angeles 380 CST Bunker Fuel benchmark. Finally, between approximately January 2011 and August 2019, Glencore Ltd. employees conspired to and did manipulate the price of fuel oil bought and sold through private, bilateral contracts, as well as derivative positions, by manipulating the Platts price assessment for U.S. Gulf Coast High-Sulfur Fuel Oil.

A former Glencore Ltd. senior fuel oil trader, Emilio Jose Heredia Collado, of Lafayette, California, pleaded guilty in March 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in commodities price manipulation in connection with his trading activity related to the Platts Los Angeles 380 CST Bunker Fuel price assessment. Heredia’s sentencing is scheduled for June 17, 2022.

Note: The complete press release from the U.S. Department of Justice is available here.

Related: Former oil trader pleads guilty to price manipulation in multiyear conspiracy

 

Photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski from Unsplash
Published: 26 May, 2022

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Technology

SMW 2024: MPA partners with S&P Global and Bunkerchain in digital ship identity

MPA signed a MoU with S&P Global and Bunkerchain to use Singapore as test bed to trial and pilot use of digital ship identity in maritime applications such as digital port clearance and digital bunkering.

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SMW 2024: MPA partners with S&P Global and Bunkerchain in digital ship identity

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Tuesday (16 April) announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with S&P Global Market Intelligence and Bunkerchain to pilot the use of digital ship identity in the republic. 

The signing took place at the ‘Accelerating Digitalisation and Decarbonisation Conference’ at Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) on the same day.

The parties agreed to use the Port of Singapore as the test bed to trial and pilot the use of digital ship identity in maritime applications such as digital port clearance and digital bunkering.

Digital identity refers to the unique representation of an entity in the digital world, which consists of various attributes and data that distinguishes it from others.

“Electronic transactions may be vulnerable to various risks as such identity fraud and data integrity breaches,” MPA said.

“Digital ship identity plays a crucial role in making electronic transactions more secure, trusted, and efficient in the maritime sector. When deployed in tandem with electronic signatures, these digital technologies will eliminate the need for physical ship stamps and wet ink signatures, and accelerate the transition towards a truly digital, secure, and paperless operations.”

MPA, together with Esri Singapore, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Institute of High Performance Computing and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore, also developed a digital twin proof-of-concept of a methanol bunkering leak incident. 

“The digital twin runs on an interactive web application that integrates weather and ocean current predictions and AIS data to present visualisation of chemical plume dispersions in the event of a bunkering incident involving alternative fuels,” it said.  

“The capability can help enhance planners’ understanding of the behaviour of the plume clouds under various conditions and guide the development of safety and incident response plans and standards.”

The port authority also announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, to support the maritime industry’s digital transformation and green transition. 

MPA will tap on AWS services including cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital twins to enhance the industry’s efficiency, safety, and sustainability outcomes. 

As part of the collaboration, MPA and AWS will develop the maritime Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI–ML) Digital Hub, the first-of-its-kind in ASEAN region. 

The AI–ML Digital Hub will leverage AWS cloud to enable the maritime industry to pilot innovative AI and generative AI (GenAI) capabilities to trial on the Green and Digital Shipping Corridors, optimising routes and fuel consumption, carbon emissions accounting, and just-in-time arrivals to help ships operate more efficiently, reduce greenhouse gases emissions, and enhance safety of operations.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Mr David Foo, Assistant Chief Executive (Operations Technology), MPA and Ms Elsie Tan, Country Manager, Worldwide Public Sector, Singapore, AWS.

Related: SMW2024: 18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme
Related: SMW 2024: MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels
Related: SMW 2024: Singapore-Rotterdam Green and Digital Shipping Corridor partners to implement first-mover pilot projects

 

Photo credit: Bunkerchain
Published: 16 April 2024

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Bunker Fuel

SMW 2024: Singapore is preparing port for multi-fuel future, says Transport Minister.

‘Our industry has brought in new bunker tankers capable of bunkering higher blends of biofuel and methanol, paving the way for greater emissions reduction for vessels,’ says Chee Hong Tat.

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SMW 2024: Singapore is preparing port for a multi-fuel future, says Transport Minister.

Singapore has moved decisively to ensure energy and fuel resilience as international shipping looks to alternative fuels to meet global decarbonisation targets, said Singapore’s Minister for Transport Mr Chee Hong Tat on Monday (15 April).

In his speech at the Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) 2024 opening ceremony, he said Singapore is preparing its port for a multi-fuel future.

“Our industry has brought in new bunker tankers capable of bunkering higher blends of biofuel and methanol, paving the way for greater emissions reduction for vessels,” he said.

“MPA has also issued Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the alternative fuels ammonia and methanol over this past year.

“For our ammonia EOI, we have shortlisted six consortiums, and are studying their comprehensive proposals for the supply of ammonia for bunkering and power generation in Singapore.”

Chee added reliability and resilience also mean that Singapore upholds the highest standards for safety, efficiency, and quality. 

“Enterprise Singapore, through the Singapore Standards Council, has been working closely with industry partners to introduce national standards to support the digitalisation of bunkering supply chain documentation, as well as on methanol and ammonia bunkering.”

“As a major maritime and bunkering hub, Singapore is committed to continue serving as a trusted node for international shipping.”

Chee said this when elaborating on Singapore’s focus to grow the republic as a hub for reliable and resilient maritime operations, one of three important areas the republic will prioritise on growing its maritime sector. 

The other two areas are to grow Maritime Singapore as a hub for maritime innovation and as a hub for maritime talent development.

“Looking ahead, we expect some turbulence along the way, but we are confident that the global maritime industry will continue to grow,” Chee said.

“And Singapore as a hub port and International Maritime Centre can benefit from this growth and the opportunities it brings, including in emerging areas like digitalisation and decarbonisation.”

However, Chee warned Singapore shouldn’t take its success for granted and to continue improving productivity and competitiveness while staying relevant to changing requirements to be able to meet the needs of local and international stakeholders. 

“But we must not rest on our laurels, or make the mistake of thinking that these positive outcomes will happen on auto-pilot. A rising tide can indeed lift all boats, but the boat and its crew can only benefit if they are well-prepared when the water level rises,” he said.

Related: SMW2024: 18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme
Related: SMW 2024: MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels
Related: SMW 2024: Singapore-Rotterdam Green and Digital Shipping Corridor partners to implement first-mover pilot projects
RelatedSMW 2023: EOI for ammonia power generation and bunkering closing by 30 April
Related: Singapore gets its first dedicated methanol bunkering tanker “MT MAPLE”
Related: Singapore: Vitol Bunkers takes delivery of specialised biofuel bunker barge “Marine Future”

 

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 16 April 2024

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Biofuel

Banle Energy arranges B24 bunkering services for “YM Utility” in Yantian

Transaction supports the first B24 biofuel supply in Shenzhen and Yang Ming’s inaugural B24 biofuel bunkering supply in China, says firm.

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Banle Energy arranges B24 bunkering services for “YM Utility” in Yantian

Banle Energy International Limited, a subsidiary of CBL International Limited, on Monday (15 April) announced the arrangement of B24 biofuel bunkering services for Yang Ming's vessel YM Utility at a port in Yantian, Shenzhen on 14 April.

“By providing Yang Ming with our B24 biofuel bunkering services, this transaction supports the first B24 biofuel supply in Shenzhen and Yang Ming's inaugural B24 biofuel bunkering supply in China,” the firm in a social media post. 

“As a company actively promoting the use of biofuels, we are making a significant contribution to the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from international shipping.”

“The B24 biofuel blend, as indicated by a study, is projected to reduce approximately 20% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions when compared with conventional fuel oil.”

As the firm focuses on expanding its operations in Europe, the firm added it will continue to forge strategic partnerships and explore new opportunities to provide efficient and reliable solutions.

 

Photo credit: Banle Energy International Limited
Published: 16 April 2024

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