Vietnamese man jailed for role in stealing $7.5m worth of gas oil from Shell refinery

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
Doan Xuan Than, a 47-year-old Vietnamese national, was part of two syndicates that made away with marine gas oil from Shell Eastern Petroleum’s refinery at Pulau Bukom. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
Doan Xuan Than, a 47-year-old Vietnamese national, was part of two syndicates that made away with marine gas oil from Shell Eastern Petroleum’s refinery at Pulau Bukom. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — A ship captain who misappropriated over US$5.7 million (S$7.45 million) worth of marine gas oil was jailed five-and-a-half years on Thursday (19 December).

Doan Xuan Than, a Vietnamese national, was part of two syndicates that made away with marine gas oil from Shell Eastern Petroleum’s refinery at Pulau Bukom. The facility is the largest petrochemical production and export centre in the Asia-Pacific region.

The 47-year-old pleaded guilty to five counts of dishonestly receiving more than 8,000 tonnes of stolen gas oil across 10 occasions between 2016 and 2017. His case is linked to the revelation late last year that some US$150 million worth of gas oil had been stolen across several years from the company’s Pulau Bukom facility.

Inside job

Doan was employed by Vietnamese marine transportation company Prime Shipping Corp from 2012. He captained two vessels MT Gaea and Prime Sun, which received legitimately purchased gas oil from Shell’s Pulau Bukom refinery.

At the same time, he would also sell stolen gas oil that had been illicitly purchased from Shell employees. The former captain would liaise with two Shell shore loading officers, Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram and Koh Choon Wei, to buy the stolen gas oil.

Doan also worked with three other Vietnamese co-conspirators: Tran Quang Tuan, Prime Shipping Corp’s chairman, Nguyen Manh Cuong, a former director of Petrolimex Singapore, and Nguyen Quoc Tuan, a former SGS surveyor. The trio, who remain at large, would help to arrange for the transfer of the stolen gas oil and handle the related financial matters.

Profits derived from the sale of the stolen gas oil would be equally split among the Doan and his three compatriots, with Doan receiving US$20,000 to US$45,000 on each occasion. Doan would then pay his crew with the illegitimate gains.

He earned about US$70,000 to US$90,000 in total from his role in the scheme. The total value of gas oil he and the others misappropriated came to US$5,745,536.38, for which Doan has not made any restitution to Shell.

Police operation

On 1 August 2017, a representative of Shell lodged a police report that Shell had suffered an unidentified loss of fuel amounting to about $2.98 million in April 2017.

The Singapore Police Force then conducted a large-scale operation on 7 January last year and arrested numerous individuals. Doan was arrested on 11 January.

Doan is the second person to have pleaded guilty over the scheme, which also saw 11 former Shell employees being charged. In July, Prime Sun’s chief officer Dang Van Hanh was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ jail.

Related story:

11 men charged for stealing fuel from Shell site on Pulau Bukom