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

Dynamic Asset Investments Limited and Goldsland Holdings Co Ltd helped Vermont UM Bunkering maintain a “Cash Float” of about SGD 100,000 to facilitate “buyback” bunker transactions at Singapore port.

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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to maintain a “Cash Float” of about SGD 100,000 to facilitate “buyback” bunker transactions; the monies would be withdrawn from Vermont’s bank account and recorded as a loan to company Director Poh Fu Teck (Mr Poh).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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MMEA detains Malaysian-registered vessels in illegal STS oil transfer operation

Two cargo ships were caught for illegally transferring diesel without approval near Pulau Mantanani, Sabah; total seizure of vessels and diesel was estimated to be about MYR 80,000.

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MMEA detains Malaysian-registered vessels in illegal STS oil transfer operation

The Sabah and Labuan Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Tuesday (16 July) detained two cargo ships for illegally transferring diesel without approval near Pulau Mantanani, Sabah.

The two ships were spotted by Arau maritime ship (KM Arau) during a patrol.

Sabah and Labuan MMEA director Maritime First Admiral Datuk Che Engku Suhaimi Che Engku Daik siad the two ships were suspiciously in close proximity.

KM Arau then approached the two vessels believed to be carrying out a ship-to-ship oil transfer.

“Upon inspection both vessels were found to be registered in Malaysia and were operated by eight Malaysian crew,” he said.

Further investigation found both were unable to provide documentation to transfer diesel.

Both ships were brought in for probe under Control of Supplies Act 1961, Customs Act 1987 and Petroleum Development Act 1974.

The total seizure of vessels and diesel was estimated to be about MYR 80,000 (USD 17,141.63 USD).

 

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 18 July 2024

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Singapore: Fake oil and bunker trader cheats woman SGD 93,000, sentenced to jail

Victim lodged a police report on 29 May 2023 and authorities arrested Muhammad Sharul Bin Anoor on 8 November 2023; to date, Sharul has repaid SGD 67 to the victim.

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RESIZED state courts

A 30-year-old former deliveryman posing as an oil and bunker trader received a 19-month jail sentence at the State Court of Singapore on Friday (12 July) after pleading guilty to seven cheating charges.

Sometime in 2022, Muhammad Sharul Bin Anoor (Sharul) created a fake profile with the name “Melcolm Tan” and met the 34-year-old victim in late August 2022 on an online dating website; they initially communicated over Telegram, showed documents obtained from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

Falsely representing himself as an oil and bunker trader by occupation, “Melcolm” on 26 August 2022 told the victim she could invest in his shipping imports and make guaranteed returns of 3.5% by January 2023.

“Melcolm” told the victim that he would bear any losses, and that she would get her monies back. The victim transferred SGD 5,000 to “Melcolm” via Paynow through his mobile number on the same day but noticed the Paynow number was registered to Sharul after the first transfer.

Following, the victim messaged Sharul through WhatsApp using his Paynow number, but to maintain the deception Sharul lied that he was “Shan” who was an employee of “Melcolm” and would act as an intermediary between the victim and “Melcolm” going forward.

The victim believed Sharul and continued corresponding with “Shan”. Between August 2022 and March 2023, the victim was dishonestly induced to transfer a total of SGD 92,510 to Sharul. She used SGD 50,000 from her own personal savings and took out loans for the remaining amounts.

Sharul dissipated the monies on his renovation, car and credit card repayments. Details of several transactions are below:

Date Amount transferred to Sharul Fales representations by “Shan”
2 September 2022 SGD 8,000 Claimed “Melcolm” lost his credit card and needed funds to pay for his hotel expenses in Indonesia and his return flight to Singapore.
15 September 2022 SGD 6,000 Claimed “Melcolm” wanted to transfer the funds to “Shan”, and asked the victim to transfer the monies on his behalf.
11 October 2022 SGD 20,000 Claimed “Melcolm” needed the funds to close a deal as his friends had cheated him of $340,000.
16 November 2022 SGD 10,000 Claimed “Melcolm” needed the funds to pay customs duties to avoid being arrested.
19 December 2022 SGD 9,500 Claimed “Melcolm” needed the funds to pay his fines so that his lawyer could secure the release of his assets.
22 December 2022 SGD 7,000 Claimed “Melcolm” needed to transfer the funds to “Shan” to help with “Shan”s loans.

From March 2023, the victim attempted to meet “Melcolm” and “Shan” on various occasions to discuss the repayment of the monies, but Sharul repeatedly failed to turn up for these meetings.

Growing suspicious, the victim lodged a police report on 29 May 2023; Sharul was eventually traced and arrested on 8 November 2023.  To date, Sharul has repaid SGD 67 to the victim.

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 16 July 2024

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Singapore: Ex-Director of Inter-Pacific Petroleum appeals High Court decision

Dr Goh Jin Hian reportedly appealed against the decision by the High Court that found him to be responsible for up to USD 146 million of the company’s total USD 156 million loss.

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Singapore High Court

The former Director of defunct Singapore bunker supplier Inter-Pacific Petroleum (IPP) has reportedly appealed against the decision by the High Court that found him to be responsible for up to USD 146 million of the company’s total USD 156 million loss, according to media outlets on Thursday (11 July).

Manifold Times previously reported IPP Judicial Managers (JMs) Deloitte Singapore, the plaintiffs, on April 2023 initiated a legal suit against former company Director Dr Goh Jin Hian, the defendant, suing him for over USD 156 million over losses due to alleged breach of his Director’s duties.

The Singapore branch of Maybank is looking to recover an amount of USD 88.3 million while Societe Generale (SocGen) is owed USD 81.3 million that they allege to be due to Dr Goh’s negligence as Director.

Dr Goh has said it is not the responsibility of the Director to authenticate documents from management and he disputes against the banks’ own due diligence and credit risk assessment.

“I am satisfied having considered the evidence and submissions that the plaintiff’s claim has been made out as to the liability of the defendant,” wrote Judge Aedit Abdullah in his Brief Remarks on 24 January obtained by Manifold Times.

Judge Aedit pointed out Dr Goh should have carried out his duties as Director and inquired about the financial position of IPP upon knowing of three ‘red flags’ incurred.

Of the total USD 156 million claimed by the IPP JMs, Judge Aedit concluded claims for the full extent of the sum of USD 146 million (exact: USD 146,047.099.60 and the interest claimed) should be allowed.

Related: Singapore: Ex-Director of Inter-Pacific Petroleum found responsible for up to USD 146 million of firm’s loss

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 15 July 2024

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