12 men charged in Singapore for taking bribes in $128 mil Shell Bukom gasoil heist

Storage tanks at the Shell refinery at Pulau Bukom in Singapore in 2021.
Storage tanks at the Shell refinery at Pulau Bukom in Singapore in 2021. (PHOTO: Joseph Nair/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A total of 12 men were charged in court on Thursday (14 April) for accepting bribes in relation to a heist which resulted in Shell losing at least $128 million in marine gasoil from its largest petrochemical production and export centre in Asia Pacific at Pulau Bukom.

The 12, all surveyors from surveying companies, were engaged by Shell to inspect the volume of oil loaded onto the vessels which Shell supplied oil to. However, they are said to have accepted bribes totalling at least US$213,000 (S$288,171) from 2014 to 2017, from former Shell employees who were key players in the misappropriation.

The scheme involved selling gasoil siphoned from Shell to captains of vessels at a price lower than the prevailing estimated market value.

The 12 men are A Duraisamy, 60; Jasbir Singh Paramjit Singh, 37; Anand Omprekas, 39; Noruliman Bakti, 40, Muhammad Ali Muhammad Nor, 55; Erwin Suhardi Jamaluddin, 38; Lee Been Lian; 57, Naushad Carrim Tengur, 45; Muhammad Khairul Asri Mohamad Hanafiah, 38; Kumunan Rethana Kumaran, 40; Paramanandham Srinivasan, 39; and Rizal Zulkeflee, 38.

All the men save for Naushad and Paramanandham, are Singaporean. Naushad is a Singapore permanent resident, while Paramanandham is from India. All were employed by either Intertek Testing Services, Inspectorate Singapore, CICC Singapore, or SGS Testing & Control Services Singapore.

The men allegedly accepted the bribes in exchange for inaccurately reporting the amount of oil loaded onto vessels which they were engaged by Shell to inspect. The bribes each range from US$3,000 to US$90,000.

The highest bribe was paid to Ali, who is said to have used US$39,000 of the proceeds to buy a BMW 523i motor vehicle, for which he will also be charged under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act for using benefits of criminal conduct.

According to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, the bribes were given either directly or through middlemen by former Shell employees Juandi Pungot, Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram and Richard Goh Chee Keong.

Juandi, one of the masterminds, was sentenced to 29 years’ jail for his role in the heist on 31 March. Muzaffar and Goh’s cases are still pending.

If convicted of a corruption offence, each man may face up to five years in jail, or a fine of up to $100,000.

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