Man admits to stealing over $2 million in nickel cathode plates from employer's warehouse

Wan Ting Koh
Along with stealing wooden pallets, Ismawi Ismail also made off with over $2 million in nickel cathode plates. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

He roped in three others and evaded multiple layers of security to carry out heists on his employer’s warehouse.

Along with stealing wooden pallets, Ismawi Ismail also made off with over $2 million in nickel cathode plates.

At the State Courts on Monday (7 January), the 41-year-old admitted to one count of criminal breach of trust and seven counts under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Eleven other counts of corruption were taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Started with wooden pallets

At the time of the offences, Ismawi, a Singaporean, was a supervisor employed by C Steinweg Warehousing at a warehouse on Jurong Port Road.

Ismawi hatched the plan to steal his company’s property in mid-2017 after he was approached by someone who asked if he had anything to sell. He offered the person wooden pallets from his company’s warehouse, which he was not authorised to sell.

To carry out the theft, Ismawi roped in fellow warehouse supervisor, 58-year-old Zainal Supardi.

The plan was to have Ismawi arrange for lorries to pick up the pallets from the warehouse after 8pm, when the other staff would have left. He would then disarm the warehouse’s alarm with the passcode he knew before loading up the lorries.

Zainal’s task was to cover the warehouse’s CCTV cameras with cloth and to inform the premise’s security guard about the arrangement. For his help, Zainal was paid $200 on at least three occasions between September and November 2017.

The warehouse’s security guard, 59-year-old Letchumanan L Manickam, was also offered money for each time he let the lorries pass through the premises without capturing their movements in his logbook. In total, Letchumanan made $900 from his involvement in the acts. 

Raising the stakes

After the wooden pallet heist, another person asked Ismawi for other things he could sell and the latter offered the nickel cathode plates stored at the warehouse.

Ismawi then roped in another colleague, 47-year-old warehouse administrator Mohd Ali Hanafiah Mahamod, to help with the loading of the nickel plates onto the lorries.

Ali was offered about $50 each time he prepared the nickel plates for loading and $200 each time he helped to load them.

Between June and December 2017, Iswami misappropriated 86 bundles of nickel cathode plates. The plates, which weighed some 129 tonnes, were worth a total of $2,088,000.

On 11 January last year, Steinweg’s operations manager made a police report stating that the company had received a claim from a client regarding a shortfall in a shipment of nickel plates.

Iswami has not made any restitution to C Steinweg Warehousing for his actions.

Zainal, Letchumanan and Ali have not been dealt with by the courts and are currently undergoing pre-trial conferences.

Iswami’s lawyer, Kalidass Murugaiyan, told the court that his client received no more than $6,000 in personal gains from the heists. The defence lawyer asked for six years and two months for his client.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Sng sought a jail term of seven years and six months for Iswami, whom he said had bypassed several layers of security to get his hands on the nickel plates.

This suggested that Iswami’s offences were carefully orchestrated and premeditated, said Sng.

Iswami will be sentenced on 21 January.

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