Shell heist: More than 15 years' jail for employee who helped steal S$S60mil of gas oil


SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): A Shell employee who worked with a syndicate to secretly siphon off S$60 million in oil to sell illegally to earn some $735,000 for himself was jailed for 15 years and four months on Thursday (May 26).

Muhamad Farhan Mohamed Rashid, 34, was one of the co-conspirators in a massive plot to steal gas oil from Shell Eastern Petroleum's Pulau Bukom site.

The plot involved $128 million in misappropriated oil.

Farhan, who joined the company in 2010, had pleaded guilty on March 29 to 13 counts of criminal breach of trust for offences committed between 2014 and 2016.

Another 25 charges that include similar offences were taken into consideration.

Gas oil is crude oil that has gone through the refining process.

It is often used as commercial fuel and in some countries, as an alternative to diesel.

Given one of the longest prison terms for a commercial crime, one of the masterminds of the heist, Juandi Pungot, 45, was in March jailed for 29 years for siphoning nearly $128 million worth of gas oil, which was meant to be used as marine fuel.

Deputy public prosecutors Christopher Ong, Stephanie Chew and Ryan Lim stated in court documents that Juandi and other conspirators started planning the heist in 2007.

Farhan, who worked as a technician or a control panel operator, was recruited by Juandi into the criminal syndicate in 2014, according to court documents.

The prosecutors said Farhan's primary role in the plot was to open and close a bypass valve to facilitate the transfer of gas oil.

They added: "The accused and Juandi used walkie-talkies to communicate. On Juandi's timing, the accused would open the bypass valve and report back to Juandi that he had done so.

"After the misappropriated gas oil had been fully transferred to a vessel, Juandi would give another signal to the accused through the walkie-talkie (and he) would close the valve and return to his work."

Farhan was also responsible for starting the manual operation of pumps.

On Juandi's order, Farhan would operate a panel inside the movement control room and switch on the pumps using "manual mode", which enabled the pumping of misappropriated gas oil into the vessels.

Occasionally, if Juandi was in the movement control room, Farhan also acted as a lookout and was instructed to alert Juandi if anyone was close to it.

Farhan admitted that he had used his ill-gotten gains to buy a $120,000 car, among other items, in 2016.

More than 26 people have been hauled to court over this conspiracy, which was first noticed by Shell in 2015, when it observed significant unidentified oil loss at Pulau Bukom.

Other key players of the heist have been dealt with in court.

They include Muhammad Ashraf Hamzah, who was sentenced to 9½ years' jail, and Sadagopan Premnath, who was sentenced to six years and eight months' jail.

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

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