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Singapore: Former Sea Hub Tankers staff jailed over “Sea Tanker II” sanctions violations

28 Feb 2023

Former staff of Sea Hub Tankers Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Sea Hub Energy Pte Ltd, on Monday (20 Febraury) received jail sentences at the State Courts of the Republic of Singapore over Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) sanctions violations.

Assistant Marine Superintendent Ong Chou Hong Aaron and Cargo Officer Tan Chun Kiat Benny were ordered by the Judge to respectively spend nine and six months in jail due to their involvement in falsifying documents and hindering investigations related to the Sea Tanker II.

Both Aaron and Benny had an accomplice, namely Jeremy Koh Renfeng, who was employed as a Cargo Officer during the time of offence; Jeremy’s case is pending, according to a source at the Attorney-General’s Chambers.


Documents obtained by bunkering publication Manifold Times showed the MT Sea Tanker II being chartered to Golden Ocean Shipping (HK) Limited, a Hong Kong company, for a period of six months beginning from 1 September 2018.

Between 26 October 2018 and 8 December 2018, Singapore authorities received information alleging MT Sea Tanker II being engaged in a ship-to-ship transfer with DPRK-flagged vessels. 

On 5 November 2018, the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) requested for documents from Sea Hub Tankers, including MT Sea Tanker II’s official log book, oil record book part II, charter party agreement(s) and bill of lading(s). 

Falsification of documents

Between 5 November 2018 to 6 December 2018, Aaron and Benny gave instructions to Jeremy (who was on board MT Sea Tanker II at the material time) that the records in MT Sea Tanker II’s official logbook and various records would need to be re-written.

The trio communicated by WhatsApp to construct and present a false narrative of the movement of the vessel MT Sea Tanker II which could then be provided to the authorities – with a view to conceal its true movements and cargo operations.

Aaron and Benny also instructed Jeremy to ensure certain items were removed from the ship or destroyed including any document with Korean words on it and Korean cigarettes. 

As MT Sea Tanker II did not maintain an oil record book, the group falsified entries in the document by creating fictitious events to suggest vessel providing marine gas oil (MGO) to several fishing vessels in areas which matching the false narrative in the official logbook in terms of the dates and purported locations. 

Benny also instructed Jeremy to discard the bunker transfer receipts (BTRs) on the ship as the amounts in the BTRs would not match the falsified records in the oil record book part II. 

Evidence from Aaron’s handphone 

Investigations into Aaron’s handphone later retrieved images of a sounding report and a barge transfer advice, which recorded MT Sea Tanker II transferring around 2600 KL of oil to a vessel named MT An San I between 30 and 31 October 2018. 

MT An San I is believed to be a DPRK-flagged vessel. The sounding report was also signed off by a Chief Officer from Ansan Shipping Company, which is believed to be a North Korean shipping company. 

This transfer to MT An San I was not recorded in the official logbook or in the oil record book part II. In this regard, investigators concluded the official logbook and the oil record book part II were therefore false. 

Computer thrown overboard 

Investigators also found Aaron on 16 November 2018 instructing Jeremy via Whatsapp to check if certain emails and other documents had been printed out and filed, and if so, to throw them away.

Jeremy responded to say “[t]he harddisk better throw”. Aaron then informed Jeremy that Benny would be bringing a new Computer Processing Unit (CPU) to the ship and instructed Jeremy to destroy the CPU on board MT Sea Tanker II, saying “Tonight CPU throw into direct sea. At night then do.” 

Jeremy acknowledged Aaron’s instructions and stated “Yup the [CPU] lot of shit” (sic); he dismantled the CPU and sent Aaron a picture to show that he had done so and then threw the parts of the dismantled CPU into the sea at night.

Actions ‘frustrated’ CAD investigators

The MT Sea Tanker II later returned to Singapore on 6 December 2018; the falsified logbook and oil record book part II were provided together with other ship documentation to MPA which then passed the documents to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).

“The falsification of the logbook and oil record book part II frustrated the investigations by CAD, as it provided a false account of MT Sea Tanker II’s movement and cargo activity, and concealed MT Sea Tanker II’s true movement and cargo activity at the time,” noted court documents. 

“Similarly, the disposal of the CPU frustrated CAD’s ability to fully investigate into Sea Hub Tankers’ alleged contravention of Regulation 5 of the DPRK regulations as well as the persons criminally responsible behind Sea Hub Tankers alleged contravention, as CAD was unable to retrieve relevant information and documents pertaining to MT Sea Tanker II’s activities from the CPU.”

Related: Singapore: Imprisonment of Sea Hub Energy Director ‘unrelated to company integrity’, says majority shareholder
Related: Singapore: Sea Hub Energy exits MPA bunker craft operator list
Related: OFAC adds Singapore-registered “Sea Tanker II” to sanctions list


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 28 February, 2023

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