A former Shell Eastern Petroleum employee on Wednesday (6 January) pleaded guilty to being involved in the Shell MGO bunker heist by embezzling millions of dollars’ worth of gas oil from the Pulau Bukom refinery for sale to other parties.
Muhammad Ashraf Bin Hamzah is the second former Shell employee to admit to his involvement in the case.
According to court documents obtained by Manifold Times, he pleaded guilty to nine accounts of aiding and abetting criminals in a breach of trust as an employee over SGD 49 million worth of gas oil between 2017 and 2018.
According to the court filing, former Shell employees Juandi bin Pungot, then a Shore Loading Officer and colleague Abdul Latif bin Ibrahim first began to conduct illegal loadings in 2007 for bunker vessel Anic 1.
Emboldened by their initial success, the duo expanded their illegal loadings to many other bunker ships, and recruited other colleagues into their scheme between 2008 and mid-2013.
Juandi and Abdul Latif subsequently recruited Muhammad Ashraf into the criminal syndicate no later than 2010.
Muhammad Ashraf’s primary role in the heist was to open and close the bypass valve to facilitate the transfer of misappropriated gasoil, by permitting co-conspirators to bypass the custody transfer meters which would otherwise capture the movement of oil. Muhammad Ashraf was aware of this.
Given the increase in manpower, the co-conspirators were able to increase the frequencies of illegal loadings for Anic 1 to approximately twice a month.
At the time, Muhammad Ashraf and some co-conspirators received between SGD 10,000 to SGD 15,000 per illegal loading.
From mid-2014, Abdul Latif left Shell but the syndicate decided to resume their criminal activities without Abdul Latif.
The syndicate continued to facilitate illegal loadings with Vietnamese vessels and some Singaporean corporate buyers.
At this point, operations involved corruptly bribing independent surveyors appointed by Shell to conduct inspections on the quality and quantity of gasoil sold to vessels, to refrain from accurately reporting the presence of excess gasoil onboard vessels which had been misappropriated.
Muhammad Ashraf left the syndicate in 2016 and received a total of SGD 700,000 in ill-gotten gains through his participation; he admitted to laundering a portion of the monies through the purchase of a Volvo V40 car for SGD 191,703.16.
He is currently out on bail and a sentencing has been scheduled for Tuesday, 2 March, 2021.
In December 2020, Indian national Sadagopan Premnath was the first ex-Shell employee to plead guilty to his involvement in the heist.
The estimated cost directly incurred by Shell at the end of 2020 to manage the consequence of the long-term misappropriation, including the implementation of new safety measures detailed is in the region of SGD 6 million.
Earlier coverage of developments by Manifold Times regarding the Shell MGO bunker heist can be found below:
Related: Shell MGO bunker heist: First ex-Shell employee to plead guilty over involvement
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Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 7 January, 2021
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