Vietnamese tanker captain jailed over Shell oil heist in Singapore

Vietnamese tanker captain jailed over Shell oil heist in Singapore

Pulau Bukom industrial site
File photo of Pulau Bukom industrial site in western Singapore. (Photo: AFP)

SINGAPORE: A Vietnamese tanker captain has been jailed in Singapore for his part in a scheme that saw about US$150 million (S$203 million) worth of oil stolen from energy giant Shell's largest refinery, authorities said Friday (Dec 20).

The theft took place over several years from a huge industrial site in Singapore, described by the Anglo-Dutch firm as one of its most important production centres in the world.

READ: Chief officer of tanker in 'unprecedented' S$3.5 million Shell oil heist jailed

Police put an end to the scheme, which saw oil siphoned from the refinery and sold below market rates, in 2018 with the arrest of several suspects and the seizure of a tanker and money.

Captain of the tanker, Doan Xuan Than, was jailed for five and half years Thursday after admitting he received stolen oil worth US$5.7 million, the attorney-general's office confirmed.

The 47-year-old worked with three other men - who remain at large - in a scheme to buy the pilfered crude over almost two years, according to court documents.

The oil was allegedly illicitly purchased from Shell employees and later offloaded at sites outside Singapore.

For his role, Than earned between US$70,000 and US$90,000.

He is the second person jailed over the massive theft after a Vietnamese crew member from his tanker was handed a two and a half year term in July.

READ: 11 charged over multi-million dollar Shell oil heist in Singapore

The chief officer of the tanker, Dang Van Hanh, 38, was involved in receiving US$2.6 million worth of gas oil stolen from Shell's Pulau Bukom refinery.

Dang was chief officer on Prime South, a Vietnamese vessel owned by Prime Shipping Corporation, which received large quantities of the stolen gas oil.

Prime South and a second ship, Prime Sun, entered Shell Pulau Bukom to receive legitimately purchased gas oil, and would also take on stolen oil.

The oil was illegally taken from rogue Shell employees through arrangements made by others in the syndicate.

The Pulau Bukom refinery is the largest petrochemical production and export centre in Asia Pacific.

In total, 11 people were charged in 2018 for their alleged involvement in the theft.

Singapore is one of the world's largest oil trading hubs with huge quantities of crude from the Middle East passing through the city-state before going on to East Asia, and several oil majors have local refineries.

Source: Agencies/aa

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