Directors Poh Fu Tek and Koh Seng Lee, and one former bunker manager Lee Kok Leong of Singapore-based Vermont UM Bunkering was charged for cheating and criminal breach of trust offences under the Penal Code at a Singapore court on Thursday.
‘Through these alleged fraudulent transactions, Vermont Bunkering had dishonestly induced its customers to make excess payments totalling over US$8 million,’ said Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
According to CPIB, the Penal Code offences the trio were charged are as follows:
Vermont Bunkering and Poh will be further charged with 18 counts of abetment by engaging in a conspiracy to disguise property representing benefits from criminal conduct. This was carried out by falsely purporting that various quantities of fuel oil had been sold to Vermont Bunkering – an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act [CDSA].
‘This is the first time a company (i.e. legal person) will be prosecuted for offences under the CDSA. An individual who commits an offence under section 47 of the CDSA shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both; if the person is not an individual, a higher fine not exceeding $1 million may be imposed,’ commented CPIB.
On 10 October, former cargo officers of Vermont Bunkering Lee Peck Yong and Loh Cheok San, together with Lee Kok Leong, were each charged with one count of criminal conspiracy to commit cheating by deceiving Vermont Bunkering into paying them even larger commissions than the sum being used to facilitate the illegal marine fuel oil buy-back transactions.
‘As a result, Vermont Bunkering was dishonestly induced to pay a larger sum for the marine fuel,’ CPIB adds.
‘CPIB had worked with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on this case and received valuable assistance from them.
‘Singapore adopts a zero tolerance approach towards corruption and criminal activities. The CPIB takes a serious view of any corrupt and criminal practices, and will not hesitate to take action against any party involved in such acts.’
MPA on 28 April, 2016 revoked the bunker supplier and bunker craft operator licences of Vermont Bunkering due to discrepancies and wrongful declarations in the records kept on board their bunker tankers.
Photo credit: Freeimages/foxumon
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