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November 8, 2010

Fuel scammer sent to slammer

A former Royal Caribbean fuel buyer has received a prison sentence for defrauding the cruise line of more than $600,000.

According to statements made in a plea agreement, Jamil Murni, 60, of Houston, Texas,was a fuel buyer for Royal Caribbean. In that position, he was responsible for researching suppliers and negotiating price, availability, and delivery schedules of fuel for Royal Caribbean Cruises' fleet.

Muni was arrested in Houston in February on an indictment charging him with nine counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957.

According to the plea agreement, in 2003, Murni registered "Sea Fuels Trading" as a fictitious name with the Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations. He then opened and maintained a bank account in the name of Sea Fuels Trading. On December 19, 2003, Murni applied to have Sea Fuels Trading become a fuel provider for Royal Caribbean. In that application, defendant Murni fraudulently concealed his ownership of the company. Royal Caribbean subsequently approved Sea Fuels Trading as a fuel vendor.

Murni used his position within Royal Caribbean to obligate the cruise company to more expensive contracts with Sea Fuels Trading. Defendant Murni then fulfilled Sea Fuels Trading's obligations by purchasing cheaper fuel from competitors. Royal Caribbean paid defendant Murni's company more than it would have paid to a legitimate fuel vendor.

According Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami Field Office, Muni operated the scam from late 2003 through late 2006.

At the sentencing on November 1, 2010 in Miami, U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced Murni to 45 months of imprisonment, to be followed by two years of supervised release. In addition, the judge ordered that the defendant pay $610,228 in restitution to Royal Caribbean.


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