SINGAPORE — A chemical oil tanker that was used in receiving US$7 million of gasoil stolen from the Shell refinery at Pulau Bukom was ordered to be forfeited by the State Courts on Friday (9 October).
Valued at about US$4.5 million, the vessel Prime South is owned by Vietnamese company Prime Shipping Corporation (PSC), which is the claimant in a Disposal Inquiry.
At the time of the offences, Prime South was captained by Nguyen Duc Quang, who was convicted of 12 charges of engaging in a conspiracy to receive stolen gasoil and sentenced to 70 months’ jail.
The gasoil had been misappropriated from the refinery as part of a larger criminal operation that lasted over three years and caused losses to Shell of about S$198 million.
Investigations have revealed that eight vessels owned or operated by PSC that had stopped at the refinery between 2016 and 2018 had received stolen gasoil. Apart from Prime South, the other vessels involved were Prime Splendour, Gaea and Prime Sun. The total value of gasoil received was about US$33 million.
Two other persons have also been convicted for their involvement in receiving stolen gasoil by PSC’s vessels. Dang Van Hanh, Chief Officer of Prime South, was sentenced to 30 months’ jail while Doan Xuan Than, the captain of Gaea and Prime Sun, was sentenced to 66 months’ jail.
In ruling for the forfeiture, the court noted that PSC was complicit in the misappropriation of gasoil through the acts of its former chairman Tran Quan Tuan. The complicity can be inferred from its lack of a proper internal investigation and inaction. In addition, Prime South was extensively used to receive the stolen gasoil.
Tran has been charged for abetting the dishonest receipt of stolen gasoil. A warrant of arrest was issued against him on 6 November 2019. He remains at large and has shown no intention to return to Singapore
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