Vietnamese trio charged in Singapore over giant oil heist at Shell's biggest refinery

By Staff reporters   January 18, 2018 | 03:25 am PT
Vietnamese trio charged in Singapore over giant oil heist at Shell's biggest refinery
Suspects in an alleged oil theft at Shell's Pulau Bukom refinery, arrive in a van at the State Courts, Singapore January 13. Photo by Reuters
They are accused of receiving stolen oil worth millions of dollars.

Three Vietnamese men have been charged in Singapore for their involvement in the theft of thousands of tons of oil from Shell's biggest refinery.

Doan Xuan Than, 46, took the stand on Thursday charged with "dishonestly receiving" 1,348 tons of gas oil worth $736,445 on New Year's Eve of 2017, Straits Times reported.

Also appearing in court on Thursday were two Singaporean citizens, Alan Tan Cheng Chuan, 45, and Ng Hock Teck, 54.

Both are accused of being party to a plan to "dishonestly receive" 300 tons of oil worth $160,000 on November 11 last year.

On January 9, Vietnamese nationals Nguyen Duc Quang, 46, and Dang Van Hanh, 37, were also charged with receiving 1,260 tons of stolen gas oil worth $687,960.

Quang faces two more charges of “dishonestly receiving stolen oil” from two previous cases, according to the Straits Times.

He allegedly received 1,276 tons of oil worth $653,733 on October 23 last year shortly after accepting 1,131 tons of fuel valued at $579,445.

Quang and Hanh will be held in custody for another week pending further investigations by Singaporean authorities.

They are expected to appear in court on January 22 to establish a connection between them and nine other Singaporeans who have already been charged.

"he Vietnamese embassy in Singapore is closely following the case and "will take measures to protect its citizens when necessary," said Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang.

According to Channel News Asia, as many as 20 people were involved in the theft of oil worth over $2.7 million from Shell’s biggest refinery at the Pulau Bukom industrial site, which sits just south of Singapore's main island.

So far, 14 have been arrested, including eight employees of Shell Eastern Petroleum (Pte) Ltd, a Singaporean subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Shell Eastern Petroleum first contacted authorities in August 2017 after oil started going missing from the Pulau Bukom industrial site, according to Reuters.

Police have seized millions of dollars in cash and a small tanker in a sting operation involving simultaneous raids across Singapore, one of the world’s most important oil trading centers and a major refinery hub.

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