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Ex-Shell employee gets 29 years' jail for $128 million gasoil heist at Pulau Bukom

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·Senior Reporter
·4-min read
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An oil tanker sails past Shell petroleum refineries on Bukom Island off Singapore on March 17, 2022. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
An oil tanker sails past Shell petroleum refineries on Bukom Island off Singapore on March 17, 2022.( Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — One of the masterminds behind a $128 million marine gasoil heist from Shell Pulau Bukom in Singapore was sentenced to 29 years' jail at a court hearing on Thursday (31 March).

Prosecutors had sought 29 years and 11 months’ jail for Juandi Pungot, who misappropriated gasoil from Shell’s largest petrochemical production and export centre in Asia Pacific for over a decade. Juandi’s lawyer, Noor Marican, sought 15 years’ jail.

The former process technician and shore loading officer with Shell Eastern Petroleum had pleaded guilty to 36 charges including laundering the benefits of his crime, graft and abetment by engaging in a conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust as a servant. The rest of the 49 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Passing sentence on Juandi, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng described the offences as "exceptionally serious" and of an unprecedented "massive scale".

Juandi's crimes had hit at the heart of the bunkering and petrochemical industry, a key component of Singapore’s economy, affecting the nation's reputation as a commercial hub, said the judge.

The 45-year-old was allowed to start serving his sentence on 6 May, and was released on $550,000 bail with electronic monitoring.

From 2007 to 2017, the Singaporean misappropriated nearly $128 million worth of gasoil and obtained $5.6 million from the crime. He splurged $3.4 million of the ill-gotten gains on designer watches, vehicles and properties both foreign and local. He also traded, invested and gambled the funds.

Amongst his purchases are a condominium at Regentville, a Mercedes Benz GLC250, a Toyota Harrier, at least 18 luxury watches, three properties in Bangkok which he bought through his wife, and a property in Batam.

He used over half a million dollars to gamble at Marina Bay Sands Casino, opened a Halal Japanese restaurant 3 Amigoes at Bussorah Street — the business has since been struck off — in January 2017 with his co-conspirators, and invested in another restaurant in Johor Bahru.

Juandi joined Shell on 1 June 2004 and earned an average monthly salary of $6,000. He was tasked to facilitate the transfer of Shell’s petroleum products at Pulau Bukom to client vessels. As a shore loading officer, he was also responsible for all the communication between vessels and Shell before and after berthing.

How the scheme worked

Three years into his employment, Juandi began siphoning gasoil from his employer. He mooted the conspiracy with colleague Abdul Latif Ibrahim and recruited a third key player, Muzaffar Ali Khan within the next year. At least seven others were recruited between then and 2017.

The scheme involved selling the misappropriated gasoil to captains of vessels at a price lower than the prevailing estimated market value.

The plans hinged on the group's in-depth knowledge of Shell’s internal systems, with the men planning routes to avoid detection. The members manipulated the oil control panel, distracted supervisors, tampered with the bunker meter’s ability to register readings and prevented CCTV cameras from recording the illegal activities.

The group also coordinated their movements in group chats although they were not allowed to use their phone while on duty.

They also paid off relevant individuals to turn a blind eye to their misappropriation.

How Shell discovered the heist

In early 2015, Shell began noticing a significant unidentified oil loss at Shell Pulau Bukom. It engaged experts to conduct a technical and process review at the site but the panel did not detect any misappropriation. It continued experiencing significant loss even though it implemented enhanced measures.

Shell eventually appointed a team of analysts who detected the misappropriation and a representative lodged a police report on 1 August 2017.

By then Shell had run up a loss of around $128 million in gasoil. It took another $6 million for Shell to manage the consequences of the long term misappropriation, including implementing new measures such as installing anti-theft CCTVs, a monitoring software to detect the theft of gasoil, and creating new permanent positions to strengthen the supervision of key processes.

Juandi tendered his resignation on 5 December 2017, although this was superseded by his termination on 28 December 2017. He had heard rumours that the police were investigating their misappropriation and feared being caught.

However he continued to be involved in the syndicate by collecting and distributing the criminal proceeds.

Juandi was arrested on 7 January 2018.

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