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January 30 & 31, 2002

January 28, 2002

Singapore: Bunker record despite bunker scandal
Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) last week announced that the port set a new bunkering record of 20.4 million tonnes of bunkers sold in 2001. This surpassed the previous record of 18.9 million tonnes sold in 1999. The 9.1 per cent increase outstripped 1999's bunker sales growth of 4.6 percent.

News of the record, announced Friday, came one day after the MPA suspended the bunkering licence of Navi Marine Services Pte Ltd to operate as a bunker supplier and a bunker craft operator. The action followed the conviction of five marine surveyors for accepting bribes from Navi Marine .

According to a Straits Times report, the five,"who were supposed to make sure the correct quantity and quality of marine fuel was supplied to vessel owners, pocketed bribes in exchange for falsely certifying that everything was in order."

The convictions followed a probe initiated on May 25 last year when Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) received information that Navi Marine was giving bribes to the marine surveyors.

The men - Tay Hong Hwee, 30; Madhar Abdeen Abdul Mathaliff, 32; Jagjit Singh, 36; James Asokan, 40 and Chew Ann Eng, 47 - accepted bribes of between Singpore $499 and S$3,156.

Last week, Madhar and Asokan were each fined S$8,000. Tay was ordered to pay a S$10,000 fine, while Jagjit got a S$12,000 fine. The highest fine - S$20,000 - went to Chew, who received S$3,156 from Navi Marine.

The five must also forfeit the amounts that they pocketed.

The court heard that Jagjit and Madhar knew the amount of fuel supplied to the vessels they checked was less than the amount ordered, says the Straits Times Report. Asokan, Chew and Tay not only incorrectly certified that the right quantity of fuel had been supplied, but also turned a blind eye to the fact that a lower grade of fuel was supplied.

As a result of their actions, shipowners were billed an extra US$40,000 (S$73,500). says the newspaper.

Last week's convictions come after growing concerns about bunkering practices in Singapore. Among those concerns is bunker contamination.

The MPA is working with the Singapore Shipping Asociation to draw up an accreditation scheme for bunker suppliers. This scheme would include a demerit point system to improve the quality and reliability of bunker suppliers and to deter bunkering malpractices.

In November 2001, the MPA suspended two bunker tankers (MT Alexandrea and MT Memphis) alleged to have supplied contaminated bunkers. Since then, the MPA has conducted extensive investigations into the problem of bunker contamination.