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Shell MGO bunker heist: Second ex-Shell employee pleads guilty to nine charges

Accused’s primary role in the heist was to control the valve to bypass custody transfer meters which would otherwise capture the movement of bunker oil.

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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
Related: Shell MGO bunker heist: Founder of Sentek released from police custody on SGD 300k bail, e-tagging
Related: Shell MGO bunker heist: Chemical oil tanker “M/T Prime South” forfeited by State Courts of Singapore
Related: Shell MGO bunker heist: Founder of Sentek face charge at State Courts of Singapore
Related: Singapore: Shell MGO bunker heist amount balloons to USD$142 million
Related: Shell MGO bunker heist update: Fresh charges issued at Singapore court
Related: Shell Singapore oil heist: More charges issued at court
Related: Shell Singapore oil heist: Nine charged offered bail
Related: Singapore bunker employee faces additional charges
Related: Intertek Singapore employee among Shell oil heist suspects
Related: Shell Singapore oil heist update: More individuals charged
Related: Shell Singapore oil heist: Shipowner should have conducted a charterer check
Related: Fuel syndicate busted at Singapore Shell Bukom
Related: Shell Singapore oil heist: Breakdown of stolen oil cargoes


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 7 January, 2021

 

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Vessel Arrest

Vietnam: Fishing vessel TH-92237-TS arrested over 80,000 litres of illegal diesel oil

Ship first spotted being surround by several other wooden hull fishing boats at a location about 100 nautical miles southeast of Con Da on 7 June.

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Kiem tra huong tien

The Vietnam Coast Guard on Saturday (8 June) said it arrested fishing vessel TH-92237-TS over the carriage of about 80,000 litres of illegal diesel oil.

It first spotted the vessel being surround by several other wooden hull fishing boats at a location about 100 nautical miles southeast of Con Da on 7 June.

The authority proceeded to inspect the vessel and found it to be transporting about 80,000 litres of diesel oil with no invoices or documents proving its legal origin.

Following, the coast guard conducted a record of administrative violations, established initial records, and sealed the violating goods.

It escorted the fishing vessel back to the port of Squadron 301 (in Vung Tau City) and handed it over to the Command of Coast Guard Region 3 for further investigation and handling in accordance with the provisions of law.

 

Photo credit: Vietnam Coast Guard
Published: 13 June 2024

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Alternative Fuels

IUMI: How can liability and compensation regimes adapt to alternative bunker fuels and cargoes?

Existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative marine fuels will bring.

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Dangerous cargo

By Tim Howse, Member of the IUMI Legal & Liability Committee and Vice President, Head of Industry Liaison, Gard (UK) Limited

The world economy is transitioning, with industries across the board seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace more sustainable practices. As part of this, there is a huge effort within our industry to look to decarbonise, using alternative fuels such as biofuel, LNG, LPG, ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.

Until now there has been much focus on carbon emissions and operational risks associated with the use of alternative fuels. This includes increased explosivity, flammability, and corrosivity. An ammonia leak causing an explosion in port could result in personal injuries, not to mention property damage, air, and sea pollution. In addition, alternative fuels may not be compatible with existing onboard systems, increasing the risk of breakdowns and fuel loss resulting in pollution. Apart from these safety concerns, which particularly concern crew, air pollution and other environmental impacts need to be addressed.

However, the green transition also presents us with a separate regulatory challenge, which has received less attention so far. So, whilst carbon emissions and safety concerns are rightly on top of the agenda now, the industry also needs to prioritise the potential barriers in the legal and regulatory frameworks which will come sharply into focus if there is an accident.

If anything, historic maritime disasters like the Torrey Canyon spill in 1967, have taught us that we should look at liability and compensation regimes early and with a degree of realism to ensure society is not caught off-guard. With our combined experience, this is perhaps where the insurance industry can really contribute to the transition.

Currently, existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative fuels will bring. For example, an ammonia fuel spill would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention), potentially resulting in a non-uniform approach to jurisdiction and liability. Similarly, an ammonia cargo incident would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC). Uncertainties may also exist in the carriage of CO2 as part of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which may be treated as a pollutant, with corresponding penalties or fines.

A multitude of questions will arise depending on what happens, where it happens, and the values involved, many of which may end up as barriers for would be claimants. How will such claims be regulated, will there be scope for limitation of liability, and would there be a right of direct action against the insurers? In the absence of a uniform international liability, compensation and limitation framework, shipowners, managers, charterers, individual crew, and the insurers may be at the mercy of local actions. Increased concerns about seafarer criminalisation (even where international conventions exist, ‘wrongful’ criminalisation does still occur) may emerge, creating another disincentive to go to sea.

When being carried as a cargo, the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), which is not yet in force, may resolve some of these issues for alternative fuels and CO2. However, until HNS comes into force, there will be no international uniformity to liability and compensation for the carriage of alternative fuels and CO2 as cargoes. This creates uncertainties for potential victims and their insurers, who may face increased risks and costs, due to the potential inability of existing regulations to provide protections.

The situation is even less clear in the case of bunkers. The rules for using alternative fuels as bunkers might require a separate protocol to HNS, a protocol to the Bunkers Convention, or a whole new convention specifically for alternative fuels.  Relevant considerations for the appropriate legislative vehicle include states’ preparedness to reopen the Bunkers Convention, the ability to conclude a protocol to HNS before it comes into force, and whether a multi-tier fund structure is needed for alternative fuels as bunkers (perhaps unnecessary because bunkers are usually carried in smaller quantities compared to cargoes).

Until then, what we are left with are the existing international protective funds, designed to respond at the highest levels to pollution claims resulting from an oil spill, without any similar mechanism in place to respond to a spill of alternative fuels, which are themselves so central to a green transition. Somewhat perversely, victims of accidents involving an oil spill may therefore enjoy better protections than victims of an alternative fuels spill.

In summary, while the use of alternative fuels will no doubt help to reduce the industry's carbon footprint, there are safety and practical hurdles to overcome. Stakeholders must also come together to find solutions to complex - and urgent, in relative terms - legal and regulatory challenges.

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Source:  International Union of Marine Insurance
Published: 13 June 2024

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Legal

Malaysia: MMEA detains Singapore tugboat, barge for illegal anchoring in Johor

Inspection found that both vessels from Singapore were suspected of committing offences for failing to report their arrival and anchoring without permission from Malaysian Marine Department Director.

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Malaysia: MMEA detains Singapore tugboat, barge for illegal anchoring in Johor

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Tuesday (11 June) detained a Singapore-registered tugboat with a barge at approximately 3.5 nautical miles west of Pulau Harimau in Johor.

Mersing Zone MMEA director Maritime Commander Suhaizan Saadin said the tugboat and barge were apprehended at 11.00am by a MMEA patrol team during Ops Jaksa and Ops Tiris. 

“Inspection found that both vessels from Singapore were suspected of committing offences for failing to report their arrival and anchoring without permission from the Director of the Malaysian Marine Department,” he said. 

Investigation also revealed all seven crew members from both vessels were Indonesians, aged between 25 and 44 including the captain.

The detained vessels and crew were taken to Mersing Maritime Jetty to be handed over to MMEA investigators for investigation under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952.

“MMEA will not compromise on any activities that are against the law and will always be committed in continuing operations and patrols along Malaysian Maritime Zone (ZMM) to curb illegal activities in the country's waters,” said Suhaizan.

 

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 12 June 2024

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