Singapore charges two people for corrupt marine fuel trading practices

SINGAPORE: Singapore authorities have charged two individuals for alleged corruption in relation to the trade and supply of marine fuels, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said in a statement.

Afzal Mohamed Ekbar, a bunker trader at KPI Bridge Oil Singapore Pte Ltd at the time, had allegedly obtained at least $191,000 on multiple occasions between 2017 and 2018 from the director of Straits Bunkering Pte Ltd, Shafiq Bin Nezammuddin, as kickbacks for nominating Straits for the supply of bunker fuel to KPI's customers, the CPIB statement said on Tuesday.

"Afzal had also allegedly obtained a gratification in the form of a S$90,000 (about $67,000) loan from Shafiq as an inducement for the same purpose," the statement said.

In addition, Afzal allegedly gave gratifications totalling about $165,000 to other individuals on multiple occasions as "inducements or rewards for them to place orders with KPI for the supply of bunker fuel," CPIB said.

KPI Bridge Oil changed its name to KPI OceanConnect in 2020 following a merger with OceanConnect Marine.

KPI OceanConnect in a statement said it suspended the employee in question in 2018 when it was approached by authorities and that, following the charges, it terminated his employment.

"We cannot accept any suspicion that our traders do not live up to the company's high standards of business practice," said KPI OceanConnect, adding that it had worked closely with authorities in resolving the matter.

Straits Bunkering did not respond to a request for comment.

Singapore, the world's top marine refuelling bunkering hub, has tightened rules in recent years to boost transparency and prevent cheating in the notoriously opaque industry.

In September, authorities sentenced nine people to up to three years in jail for cheating buyers out of $337,000 worth of shipping fuel. - Reuters

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