If you’re a fan of Money Heist, you’ll be surprised to know that we have a local version. No, it’s not some Mediacorp show. And instead of cold hard cash, it’s oil.
The heist has been happening not on our mainland, but on Pulau Bukom, the Shell Eastern Petroleum’s integrated oils and petrochemicals site. How did it go unnoticed at first?
One word—bribery. *Cue all Singaporeans being shook*
Former Employees Involved Charged With Bribery
The three men are Juandi Pungot, 44, Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram, 40, and Richard Goh Chee Keong, 51. They were charged in court today (23 Feb) with corruption offences.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CIPB) said that the men are accused of bribing employees of various surveying companies engaged by Shell to inspect vessels to which Shell supplied fuel.
According to CNA, Juandi and Muzaffar had given out bribes to 10 employees from various surveying companies. They were the rewards for reporting inaccurate amounts of gas oil that were loaded onto the vessels, which were slated to be inspected.
The bribes amounted to a staggering US$91,900 (~S$121,600) over the three years, from 2014 to 2017.
The last accomplice, Goh, had given out bribes totalling US$25,000 (~S$33,025) to three employees from 2016 to 2017.
The former two men face 13 charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, of which seven have been amalgamated. The latter, on the other hand, faces four.
If convicted of a corruption offence, an offender can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000 for each charge.
Oil Heist That Shell Could Not Solve
This was the largest marine fuel heist from Shell’s Pulau Bukom refinery, with nearly US$200 million worth of oil being stolen over the years.
As reported by The Straits Times, this isn’t the trio’s first charge. They had previously been involved in the oil heist and subsequently were charged with a criminal breach of trust over the stolen 300,000 tonnes of gas oil.
The first employee to come forward about the heist, Sadagopan Premnath, had pleaded guilty to his misappropriation of gas oil in 2019.
One of the charged men, Juandi, recruited him into the syndicate in mid-2017, according to CNA. As a panel operator, Sadagopan took instructions from his co-conspirators to open and close valves so that the vessels could receive the oil.
To read more about the incident, click here.
CNA also noted that while Shell noticed the significant oil loss from Pulau Bukom, despite consulting a group of experts and a third-party consultant, they were unable to uncover the oil heist.
Finally, after engaging a global multidisciplinary team of Shell analysts, the misappropriation was detected and a police report was filed in 2017.
The CIPB expresses, “[c]ompanies are strongly advised to put in place robust procedures in areas such as procurement and internal audit to prevent falling victim to corrupt acts by their employees.”
We might yearn for our life to be more interesting like the dramas we watch on television, but I’m sure most of us aren’t cut out to be mastermind criminals. Hopefully, this will be the last Money Heist-esque incident we see here.
Feature Image: Shutterstock.com / Bill Roque