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Magnets on MFMs: Trial ends with ten-month imprisonment term for Bunker Clerk of “Fragrance”

11 Sep 2020

A ten-day trial at the State Courts of Singapore ended on Thursday (10 September) with Mok Chek Meng, the bunker clerk of bunker tanker Fragrance, being sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment.

This was the first trial under Section 7(1)(b) read with Section 10(1) of the Computer Misuse Act, Chapter 50A (CMA), involving a bunker clerk who directed his crew to use an industrial strength magnet to tamper with the mass flow meter (MFM) on board a bunker tanker in order to illegally tamper with the amount of marine fuel recorded as being delivered to a receiving vessel, a spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s Chambers told Manifold Times.

Mok’s offence was classified under the lower end of the medium culpability range, and sever harm category under a sentencing framework referenced from a related case.

He conspired with his subordinate, Nurharyadi, by instructing him to use an industrial strength magnet to modify the readings of the MFM System on board Singapore bunker tanker Fragrance while it was delivering marine fuel to the receiving vessel Southern Glory.

According to court documents, Mok was a qualified cargo officer employed with Ocean Xpress Services; he was also the key person giving instructions on the use of the magnet on board Fragrance.

Records showed Mok’s employer in Ocean Xpress Services earlier instructing all of his bunker clerks, including Mok, that they could use a magnet to increase the readings recorded on the MFM.

But after the police caught them using the magnet onboard the “Southernpec”, the employer instructed his bunker clerks, including Mok, not to use the magnets again. However, Mok was caught with the magnet on 13 June 2019.

Deputy Public Prosecutors noted Mok’s offence affected public confidence in the use of the MFM system onboard Singapore bunker tankers, and caused an embarrassment to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

They recommended the Court to impose a sufficiently deterrent sentence to send a strong signal to the industry that it would not tolerate any attempt, whether magnets or otherwise, to undermine the integrity of the MFM system.

The present offence is notoriously difficult to detect and could become rampant if not firmly dealt with, added the prosecution.

They also believed the offences likely involved other third parties who would purchase the surplus marine fuel from Mok.

“Deterrence is relevant in such crimes because the group dynamics suggest that premeditation, sophistication and planning was involved,” said the prosecution in their sentencing submissions.

“The fact that a syndicate is involved in tampering bunker barges in the open seas also makes the offence difficult to detect because there is no one who can scrutinise their conduct for compliance.”

Related: Magnets on MFMs: First suspect charged over MFM tampering in landmark case
Related: Magnets on MFMs: “Consort Justice” crew pleads ‘not guilty’ to tampering charge
Related: Singapore: Bunker Cargo officer, crew face charges over alleged MFM tampering


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 11 September, 2020

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