Viet man is first person jailed for Bukom oil theft

A man linked to a case involving 340,000 tonnes of stolen gas oil worth more than $200 million - the largest in Singapore - has been jailed for 21/2 years.

The Straits Times had earlier reported that the gas oil had been stolen over several years in incidents dating back to 2014 from Shell's refinery on Pulau Bukom, the largest petrochemical production and export centre in the Asia-Pacific region.

Yesterday, a district court heard that Dang Van Hanh, 38, was the first of 15 people, including eight former Shell employees, to be dealt with in court.

His case alone involved nearly 5,600 tonnes of gas oil worth more than US$2.5 million (S$3.4 million). The Vietnamese man pleaded guilty to two counts of intentionally aiding in dishonestly receiving more than 3,500 tonnes of gas oil worth about US$1.75 million.

Two other similar charges involving the remaining amounts were considered during sentencing. He committed the offences thrice in 2016 and once last year.

Hanh was the chief officer of the vessel Prime Sun when it docked at Shell on Pulau Bukom to load gas oil on Sept 9, 2016. The captain was another Vietnamese man, Doan Xuan Than, 47, whose case is pending.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong said: "The accused was aware that Prime Sun would be receiving stolen gas oil as (Than) had informed him when they berthed. The accused also assisted in preparing a stowage plan for gas oil on this occasion as well.

"(Than) asked the accused to prepare for the loading of the illegal gas oil at the appropriate moment. The accused would then assist to get his crew members ready for such loading. However, the crew members were unaware that Prime Sun was receiving stolen gas oil."

 

The court heard that nearly 2,000 tonnes of gas oil valued at around US$800,000 was unlawfully transferred that day. According to Hanh, on each occasion when he helped to receive stolen gas oil on board Prime Sun, Than would pay him US$1,000 to US$2,000.

Hanh was also the chief officer of Prime South, a Panama-registered tanker, when it arrived in Singapore on Jan 4 last year. It is owned by Vietnamese company Prime Shipping Corporation. Before arriving here, the captain, who was also not named in court documents, told him they would be receiving stolen gas oil.

On Jan 7 last year, nearly 1,600 tonnes of gas oil worth more than US$960,000 was unlawfully transferred from Shell on Pulau Bukom to Prime South.

However, police boarded the tanker later that day to arrest Hanh and other individuals. He has made no restitution to Shell, the court heard.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2019, with the headline 'Viet man is first person jailed for Bukom oil theft'. Print Edition | Subscribe