June 30, 2022

Shell heist: Surveyor who accepted $4,000 bribe jailed four weeks

By brit

SINGAPORE – Paramanandham Srinivasan was about to inspect a vessel after cargo had been loaded onto it when he spotted a man on board.

Paramanandham, a surveyor, suspected that the man could have manipulated the readings on the vessel’s machinery or documents in order to conceal the misappropriation of oil.

He questioned the man’s presence on the vessel and the man told him not to interfere and gave him US$3,000.

For accepting the gratification from Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram, Paramanandham, was sentenced to four weeks’ jail and ordered to pay a penalty of $4,046.70 – the local dollar equivalent of the bribe amount – on Thursday (June 30).

The 39-year-old Indian national pleaded guilty to one corruption charge.

He was among 12 surveyors who were charged on April 14 for allegedly accepting bribes from then Shell employees Muzaffar, Juandi Pungot and Richard Goh Chee Keong.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew said in court documents that Paramanandham’s company, SGS Testing and Control Services Singapore, offers surveying services, including the inspection of the quantity of cargo supplied to vessels in Singapore by suppliers like Shell.

Paramanandham had spotted Muzaffar some time around April 28, 2016, on board a vessel which his company was engaged to inspect.

DPP Yew said: “After receiving the cash, the accused forbore to accurately report the amount of cargo loaded onto that vessel and turned a blind eye to Muzaffar’s misappropriation of gasoil at Shell Pulau Bukom.

“By these actions, the accused helped Muzaffar, Juandi and their co-conspirators to conceal the misappropriation of gasoil.”

As a result of the Pramanandham’s action, the misappropriation of Shell oil worth US$236,956.14 went undetected by the company in 2016.

DPP Yew added that since the discovery of the heist, Shell has taken costly measures to improve its systems and processes at Shell Pulau Bukom, including developing a monitoring software and creating new permanent positions.

By end-2020, the estimated cost directly incurred or to be incurred by the oil giant to manage the consequence of the long-term misappropriation will be in the region of $6million, the DPP said.

On March 31, Juandi was jailed for 29 years for his role in masterminding the misappropriation of more than 200,000 tonnes of gas oil worth $128 million.

This is one of the longest prison sentences for a commercial crime.

Muzaffar’s case is still pending.

Some of the other surveyors have also been dealt sentences for accepting bribes. They include Anand Omprekas, 39, Noruliman Bakti, 40, and Muhammad Khairul Asri Mohamad Hanafiah, 38, who were each jailed between four and eight months on May 26.

The maximum penalty for corruption is a $100,000 fine and five years in jail.