Man jailed for lying to police after pirates hijacked oil tanker

Louis Lau Xuanhong is out on bail and must surrender himself on July 22 to begin serving his sentence.
Louis Lau Xuanhong is out on bail and must surrender himself on July 22 to begin serving his sentence.

A company director lied to police after pirates hijacked a tanker his firm had chartered - because he did not want the authorities to know that it was carrying 2,000 tonnes of crude oil that had been purchased illegally.

Louis Lau Xuanhong, 34, was sentenced to two weeks' jail yesterday for giving false information to the police, along with three weeks' jail and a $4,000 fine for a separate drink-driving charge.

Lau worked for Yu Tat wholesale trading company, which chartered the Singapore-registered MT Joaquim. It collected the oil from a Maltese vessel in the Strait of Malacca before the tanker was hijacked by pirates on Aug 8, 2015.

The court heard that Lau called Prosperbiz Petroleum's bunker clerk Lim Puay Kwang, 41, asking him to lie to the Malaysian authorities and say that the pirates had hijacked MT Joaquim while it was sailing towards Langkawi to deliver cargo to a firm called Siam Gulf Petroleum. In reality, MT Joaquim was on its way back to Singapore.

Worried that Singapore's Police Coast Guard (PCG) might also question them about the illegal purchase of the crude oil, the pair met Prosperbiz's director Chew Hoe Soon, 55, at a Beauty World Plaza eatery on Aug 10, 2015, where the trio agreed to lie to the police.

It was not revealed in court documents what Lau had originally intended to do with the oil, or how Singapore-registered Prosperbiz was linked to him.

Lau gave the false information to Station Inspector Sivaprakash Damohdaran at the Central Police Division the next day, while Lim and Chew lied to the PCG later that month.

All three Singaporeans retracted their false statements about three months later, the court heard, though it was not revealed why.

 

Chew was earlier sentenced to two weeks' jail, while Lim was fined $3,000. The MT Joaquim was found off Pulau Rupat in Indonesian territorial waters.

Separately, Lau was found to have more than twice the limit of alcohol for driving when he was stopped by police in Kallang Road at around 4am on Feb 13 this year. He had earlier drunk six glasses of beer. He had committed a similar offence in 2011.

Lau was also disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for three years yesterday.

He is out on bail of $10,000 and must surrender himself at the State Courts on July 22 to begin serving his sentence.

For giving false information to a police officer, he could have been jailed for up to six months and fined up to $5,000. First-time offenders convicted of drink driving can be jailed for up to six months or fined between $1,000 and $5,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to a year and fined between $3,000 and $10,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2019, with the headline 'Man jailed for lying to police after pirates hijacked oil tanker'. Print Edition | Subscribe