SINGAPORE: A bunkering executive found guilty of a corrupt "buy-back" deal will be sentenced on April 17.
The accused, Pittis Stavros, was a chief engineer of the MV Sakura Princess, which was chartered by V8 Pool Inc to deliver a load of cargo.
He saw an opportunity for a lucrative business when arrangements were made for 500 tonnes of Marine Fuel Oil 380 to be supplied to the MV Sakura Princess.
A deal was struck with the bunker clerk and marine surveyor to sell back 200 tonnes of the fuel oil to the fuel supplier, thereby supplying only 300 tonnes of the fuel oil to the vessel.
This is known as a "buy-back" arrangement in the bunkering industry, where fuel is being "sold" back to the company supplying it.
Experts say the bunkering industry presents many opportunities and temptations leading to "lucrative deals", like the one Pittis struck.
As the largest and most important bunkering port in the world, where fuel is supplied to ships when they call at the ports, Singapore's port saw bunker sales volume hit more than 42 million tonnes in 2013.
But law enforcers soon caught up with Pittis.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) mounted a joint operation with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on 10 January 2013, when arrangements were made for this illicit transaction to take place.
The deal was struck as the parties involved colluded to ensure that only 300 tonnes of fuel oil was supplied to the MV Sakura Princess instead of 500 tonnes ordered by V8 Pool.
The independent marine surveyor had under-declared the amount of fuel remaining in the vessel and the bunker clerk had prepared false documentation.
Raids were conducted on the vessel and the suspected parties were arrested and brought back to the CPIB for investigation.
For his scheme, the accused was charged on 23 May 2013 with one count of Criminal Breach of Trust as a Servant, under Section 408 of the Penal Code Chapter 224.
The accused claimed trial but the court found him guilty on 10 April 2014. He will be sentenced on 17 April.
The CPIB and MPA say Singapore has always adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption and criminal activities, and will not hesitate to take action against any parties involved. - CNA/gn
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