Singapore jails tanker captain in Shell oil heist case -reports

SINGAPORE, Dec 20 (Reuters) - A Vietnamese oil tanker captain has been jailed for over five years in Singapore for his role in a scheme that saw around $150 million of oil stolen from Shell’s biggest refinery over several years, local media reported.

Doan Xuan Than, 47, on Thursday became the second person to be sentenced in a case that also involves several former employees of the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell who allegedly conspired to siphon thousands of tonnes of oil from the firm’s Singapore refinery, Singapore’s Straits Times said citing court hearings and documents.

The theft, which unfolded in the world's biggest ship refuelling hub and Southeast Asia's petroleum refining hub, shone a spotlight on an illegal oil trade worth tens of billions of dollars worldwide.

Than’s sentencing comes almost two years after Singaporean police raids that led to over a dozen arrests for alleged offences dating back to 2014 in which around 340,000 tonnes of gasoil were filched from Shell’s refinery which sits on an islet south of Singapore’s mainland.

Charge sheets seen by Reuters allege that Than received over 1,000 metric tonnes of stolen oil from the Pulau Bukom refinery on the vessel MT Gaea on two occasions in December 2017.

Another Vietnamese national was jailed for 2-1/2-years in July for related offences, the Straits Times reported.

Besides the former Shell employees, there have been related charges filed against former employees of one of Singapore’s biggest marine fuel suppliers, Sentek Marine & Trading Pte Ltd; a Singaporean who worked for Intertek, a British-listed company specializing in quality and quantity assurance, including for fuel products; and other Vietnamese nationals who allegedly received stolen property aboard ships.

Shell has previously said it was “disappointed” by what it uncovered at Pulau Bukom, was working closely with authorities and had implemented “measures to prevent this from happening again”.

Singapore’s state courts did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment while Than could not be reached for comment.

Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Christopher Cushing