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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Vermont Bunkering and staff charged over fraudulent transactions in Singapore

Bunker firm and management charged for cheating and criminal breach of trust offences.

The Merlion with Marina Bay Sands in the distance. Image credit: mroach Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Updated on 17 Nov 2017 11:34 GMT

Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) has charged Vermont UM Bunkering Pte Ltd and members of staff for cheating customers and engaging in a criminal breach of trust offences under the penal code.

Vermont, Poh Fu Tek (director), Koh Seng Lee (director) and Lee Kok Leong (former bunker manager), were charged on Thursday in court for 150 counts of engaging in a conspiracy to cheat customers of Vermont by delivering invoices indicating a higher quantity of marine fuel had been delivered when in fact a lower quantity was delivered.

The company and three aforementioned individuals are also charged with one count of engaging in a conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust by dishonestly misappropriating approximately 250 metric tonnes of marine fuel entrusted to Vermont.

Furthermore, Vermont and Poh Fu Tek were each charged with 18 counts of abetment by engaging in a conspiracy to disguise property representing benefits from criminal conduct. They are accused of doing this by using invoices falsely purporting that various quantities of fuel oil had been sold to Vermont.

It is the first time a company is being prosecuted for offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (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 both; if the person is not an individual, a higher fine not exceeding $1 million may be imposed.

In connection with this case, Lee Kok Leong, together with former cargo officers of Vermont, Lee Peck Yong and Loh Cheok San, were each charged in court on October 10 with one count of criminal conspiracy to commit cheating by deceiving Vermont 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 was said to have been dishonestly induced to pay a larger sum for the marine fuel. These constituted an offence under section 120A and punishable under section 120B of the Penal Code.

"Singapore is one of the largest and most important bunkering ports in the world. Fraudulent transactions in the bunkering industry, like short-supply and buy-back of bunker fuel, can be lucrative business for the errant players. There is, therefore, a strong need to deter illegal activities to safeguard Singapore's reputation as a premier bunkering destination," the CPIB said.

As previously reported, Vermont had its bunker supplier and bunker craft operator licences revoked by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in April 2016. An MPA investigation was said to have revealed discrepancies and wrongful declarations in the records kept on board their bunker tankers. There were also deemed to have been separate incidences of transfers of bunkers between bunker tankers that were conducted without the MPA's approval.

Related Links:

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