Man jailed 7 years for misappropriating $2M in nickel cathode plates from employer

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Ismawi Ismail pleaded guilty to seven graft charges and one count of criminal breach of trust. (Yahoo News Singapore file story)

He roped in three others and evaded multiple layers of security to raid his employer’s warehouse.

Ismawi Ismail, 41, made off with wooden pallets and $2 million in nickel cathode plates.

At the State Courts on Monday (21 January), Ismawi was jailed for seven years. He had earlier pleaded guilty to seven graft charges and one count of count of criminal breach of trust. Eleven other counts of corruption were considered in sentencing.

Started with wooden pallets

Ismawi was a supervisor employed by C. Steinweg Warehousing at a warehouse in Jurong Port Road. In mid-2017, when he was approached by someone who asked if he had anything to sell, Ismawi offered wooden pallets from his company’s warehouse, which he was not authorised to sell.

To carry out the plan, Ismawi would 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.

Ismawi roped in fellow warehouse supervisor Zainal Supardi, 58. The latter’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 given $200 in kickbacks on at least three occasions between September and November 2017.

The warehouse’s security guard, Letchumanan L. Manickam, 59, was also offered money each time he let the lorries pass through the premises without capturing their movements in his logbook. In total, Letchumanan got $900 in bribes 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, warehouse administrator Mohd Ali Hanafiah Mahamod, 47, 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.

Zainal, Letchumanan and Ali have yet to be dealt with by the courts.

Iswami’s lawyer, Kalidass Murugaiyan, had asked for six years and two months’ jail for his client. The lawyer said his client got no more than $6,000 in personal gains from the heists.

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

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