Singaporean authorities said Thursday they had sentenced nine people to prison terms of up to three years for fraud in the shipment of $337,000 worth of fuel.
The Port and Maritime Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Police and the Attorney General’s Office said the group was found guilty of using industrial-strength magnets to damage measuring instruments known as Mass Flow Meter (MFM) aboard a tanker bunker belonging to a marine fuel service provider, Southernpec Pte Ltd.
The damage to bunker tankers Southernpec 6 and Southernpec 7 allowed for higher sales volumes to be recorded than actually shipped.
Investigations revealed that between December 2018 and April 2019, there were at least 66 separate bunker operations where MFM was tampered with, according to court documents seen Reuters.
Southernpec (Singapore) Pte Ltd, which is currently in liquidation, could not be reached for comment.
In 2017, Singapore became the first port in the world to require the use of MFM, a tool that accurately measures the volume of oil delivered to ships. The use of the tool is aimed at increasing transparency and preventing fraud in the notoriously opaque industry.
Three of the nine people found guilty have been sentenced to nearly three years in prison and the rest have received prison terms ranging from two weeks to 19 months. The nine people were sentenced between 2020 and 2021.
Authorities say the syndicate’s illegal operations were discovered during an MPA probe in April 2019.
Following a review that year, MPA revoked Southernpec’s license to operate as a supplier of bunker fuel at the Singapore port for violating license terms and malpractice, including the use of magnets to interfere with MFM. [ah/rs]