The Indonesian navy held a vessel illegally importing 5,000 tonnes of high-speed diesel - used as automotive fuel - last week.
The Mongolia-flagged vessel, captained by an Indonesian national, did not have any import document or proper sailing permit when it was intercepted in waters off Batam last Wednesday, Rear-Admiral Yudo Margono told reporters in Batam last Saturday.
MV Eastern Glory was coming from waters near the Malaysia-Indonesia border where it was anchored for more than 10 hours, as 5,000 tonnes of undocumented fuel was loaded from another vessel. The Indonesian authorities identified the vessel as Singapore-flagged MV Cougar.
"We did the operations based on intelligence information that we received. The vessel (MV Eastern Glory) left Batam and returned with the illegal merchandise," said Rear-Adm Yudo.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, however, said on Tuesday (Sept 11) that MV Cougar is not a Singapore-registered ship. "MV Cougar is registered with Mongolia. The activity also did not take place in Singapore waters. MV Cougar last called the port of Singapore on Dec 6, 2017."
Rear-Adm Yudo said that before leaving Batam, MV Eastern Glory reported to the local port authorities that it would be on course for Tanjung Pelepas, Johor Baru, but it never went there.
During the trans-shipment at the Malaysia-Indonesia border, four Vietnamese and four Bangladeshi nationals were said to have been transferred from MV Cougar to MV Eastern Glory. The Indonesian navy gave no further details.
Rear-Adm Yudo said his personnel attempted to stop MV Cougar before it managed to flee. He added: "We have cooperation with the Singapore authorities. If necessary, we will report this case to them."
MV Eastern Glory's captain, identified as Suheri Nanda Pasaribu, and his crew are being detained for investigation and are facing charges as stipulated under Indonesian laws that cover trade of oil and gas, and sea transport.
Indonesia exports crude oil and also imports fuel, as local refineries do not have adequate capacity to meet domestic demand. The authorities have been cracking down on the smuggling of fuel out of the country. Rampant cases of smuggling have also involved food commodities, such as shallots from India and sugar from Thailand.
Correction note: In an earlier version of the report, Indonesian officials were cited as saying that 5,000 tonnes of undocumented fuel was loaded from a Singapore-flagged vessel identified by the authorities as MV Cougar. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has clarified that MV Cougar is not a Singapore-registered ship. It is registered with Mongolia. The activity also did not take place in Singapore waters. MPA said MV Cougar last called at the port of Singapore on Dec 6 last year.