Singapore Firm Charged with Receiving $56M in Fuel Stolen from Shell
Singapore’s Police Force announced new charges in a long-running scandal involving the thief and resale of marine fuel from Shell’s operations in the world’s largest bunker port. The scheme to steal fuel was first reported in 2017 and has involved several of the large bunker firms in addition to employees of Shell.
Sentek Marine & Trading, a large fuel trader and bunker supply company, based in Singapore was charged on 42 counts of acquiring property that the police allege “it knew was another person’s benefit from criminal conduct.” The police allege that Sentek received over $56 million worth of fuel that was “dishonestly misappropriated” from Shell Eastern Petroleum’s facility. If convicted, each count has a penalty of approximately $700,000 for a potential total of $29.4 million, or the court could fine the company twice the value of the property involved in each count.
The charges allege that, between August 2014 and January 2018, Sentek received on board its vessels a total of about 118,131 metric tonnes of marine gasoil taken illegally from Shell. The company currently reports that it operates a dozen MGO bunker vessels with a cargo capacity ranging from 500 to 2000 MT as well as a fleet of marine fuel oil bunker vessels. They have ranked among the top five fuel vendors accredited by Singapore’s MPA.
The company continues to deny all the charges against it which were brought under Singapore’s Corruption, Drug Trafficking, and Other Serious Crimes Act.
At the beginning of August, the former managing director of Sentek, Pai Keng Pheng, was brought up on 42 charges also related to the thief of the fuel. The police charged that the loading of the fuel was done with his consent while he was managing director of the company. He is also charged with 30 counts of corruption and 11 charges of obstructing justice.
Sentek is one of several bunker companies that have been linked to a broader scheme to steal fuel from Shell. The police have charged that about $150 million of oil was stolen from Shell’s facility which is the company’s largest refinery. In February 2022, a former Shell employee who was said to be one of the masterminds of the scheme pleaded guilty to 36 charges related to the thief and the laundering of money. Juandi Pungot was sentenced to 29 years in jail.
The thief ring was reportedly led by three employees of Shell. Starting in 2008, they made deals with different bunker companies including Sentek for the fuel and devised elaborate methods to hide the transfer of the fuel. The scheme was uncovered after Shell reported an unidentified loss of fuel in August 2017.