SINGAPORE - Seventeen men have been arrested for misappropriating fuel from Shell Singapore, the police said in a statement on Monday (Jan 8).
The men, aged between 30 and 63, are suspected of misappropriating fuel from Shell's Pulau Bukom manufacturing site.
Shell Singapore had lodged a report in August last year. The police conducted extensive investigations and probes.
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department, Police Intelligence Department and Police Coast Guard conducted simultaneous raids islandwide on Sunday (Jan 7) and arrested the 17 suspects.
During the operation, police seized case exhibits including cash amounting to about $3.05 million and a tanker weighing approximately 12,000 tonnes.
The police have also begun freezing the bank accounts of the suspects to prevent suspected criminal proceeds from being dissipated.
A spokesman for Shell told The Straits Times on Monday that the men arrested included "a limited number of Shell employees".
Shell Singapore said it is fully cooperating with the police as it investigates suspected product theft from its Pulau Bukom manufacturing site.
"Shell reported a suspected theft to the authorities after we became aware that we may have been the victim of a crime," said the spokesman. "We anticipate a short delay in the supply operations at Bukom, but at this point we expect to continue to meet our contractual supply obligations to customers."
The spokesman added that all Shell employees are expected to comply with the company's code of conduct and to uphold the highest standards of ethical behaviour.
"Breaches are not tolerated and carry serious consequences, up to and including dismissal," said the spokesman.
Shell declined to comment further on the ongoing investigation, saying that the safe operations of its site and care for employees and customers remain its priority.
An industry expert who spoke to The Straits Times but did not wish to be named said: "These cases are not uncommon in the industry, especially for small amounts (of fuel), and have been around from up to 15 to 20 years ago."
Such misappropriation usually takes place during the loading of fuel into the tanker, he added, where an extra volume of fuel on top of the stated amount is transferred.
He said that such misappropriation could be done with the help of insiders. "You only need as few as two or three who are involved in the loading process," he said.
Investigations against the suspects are currently ongoing.