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Singapore: Probe exposes Hong Kong entities issuing ‘false invoices’ to Vermont over purported bunker sales

26 Jul 2022

Hong Kong-incorporated entities were allegedly issuing former bunker supplier Vermont UM Bunkering Pte Ltd false invoices for purported marine fuel oil sales, according to a court document obtained by Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times.

The report noted Vermont needing to maintain a “Cash Float” of about SGD 100,000 to facilitate “buyback” bunker transactions; the monies would be withdrawn from Vermont’s bank account and recorded as a loan to company Director Poh Fu Teck (Mr Poh).

Dynamic Asset Investments Limited

Mr Poh would use Dynamic Asset Investments Limited, a Hong Kong-registered company controlled by himself, to send Vermont invoices for payment of marine fuel oil from Dynamic Asset.

“The false invoices were created to disguise the excess marine fuel oil in Vermont’s inventory as being legitimately purchased from Dynamic Asset, when they were in fact illegally obtained through the ‘buyback’ transactions,” the report explained.

Once Vermont paid Dynamic Asset, the latter would then transfer the sum to Mr Poh’s personal bank account and he would use these monies to repay the purported personal loan from Vermont – when in reality, there was no sale of fuel oil from Dynamic Asset to Vermont.

Goldsland Holdings Co Ltd

From 2014 onwards, the false invoices allegedly showing Vermont purchasing the illegally bought back fuel oil through “buyback” bunker transactions were also issued from Goldsland Holdings Co Ltd, a Hong Kong-incorporated holding company engaged in the businesses of bunker supply, biodiesel, overseas mining, bulk trade and property leasing.

“Goldsland Holdings would issue Vermont false invoices for the purported sale of marine fuel oil. In turn, Dynamic Asset would issue a corresponding false invoice to Goldsland Holdings for the sale of the same or similar quantity of marine fuel oil,” stated the report.

“Vermont would pay Goldsland Holdings pursuant to the false Goldsland Holdings invoices, and Goldsland Holdings would then pay Dynamic Asset pursuant to the corresponding false Dynamic Asset invoices.

“The monies from the fictitious sales would eventually be transferred from Dynamic Asset to Poh. Poh would then use the sum to repay the purported personal loan from Vermont.”

Charges faced by Mr Poh

Mr Poh currently faces a total of 10 charges at the State Courts of Singapore, according to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC); the charges are as follows:

  • Nine charges are under Section 47(1)(a) and punishable under s 47(6) of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA) for concealing benefits of criminal conduct, namely the additional fuel obtained from the illegal buyback transactions;
  • One charge is under Section 420 read with s 109 of the Penal Code and read with s 124(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code for conspiring with other co-accused persons to cheat buyers of marine fuel oil on not less than 149 occasions.

 

Background

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore on 28 April 2016 revoked the bunker supplier and bunker craft operator licences of Vermont due to discrepancies and wrongful declarations in the records kept on board their bunker tankers.

Mr Poh and Koh Seng Lee (Mr Koh), another Director of Vermont, were later charged by Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in November 2017 for cheating and criminal breach of trust offences under the Penal Code.

The duo are currently defending legal claims set out by Goldsland Holdings and Hong Kong Sin Hua Development Co., Ltd.

Vermont was incorporated in Singapore in October 2009, and is owned by Hong Kong based Vermont Groups Limited (VGL) (51%), Mr Poh (24.5%) and Mr Koh (24.5%); VGL is in turn 70% owned by Sin Hua, which is 99.99% owned by Goldsland.

Both Sin Hua and Goldsland are under the management of Guangdong Guangxin Holdings Group Ltd (Guangdong Guangxin), part of the Guangxin group of companies (Guangxin Group) which comprised of state-owned enterprises operated by the Guangdong provincial government.

Related: Singapore: Investigations uncover USD 3.6 million worth of bunker short deliveries by Vermont UM Bunkering
RelatedDirectors of Vermont granted leave to pursue legal suits against Goldsland and Sin Hua
RelatedVermont UM Bunkering makes winding up application at Singapore High Court
RelatedVermont UM Bunkering Directors plan to defend claims from Hong Kong firms
RelatedGoldsland Holdings moves in to secure US $22 million from Vermont UM Bunkering
RelatedBank seeks $38 million from arrested Singapore bunker tankers
RelatedSingapore: Four bunker tankers arrested
RelatedSingapore-based Vermont UM Bunkering directors, staff charged for fraud

 

Photo credit: Simon Zhu on Unsplash
Published: 26 July, 2022

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