Marine Surveyor Sentenced to Jail for Bunker Theft Scheme

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Published Aug 22, 2022 4:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

A marine surveyor has been sentenced to more than three months in jail for his role in a long-running bunker theft ring in Singapore, the world's largest bunkering hub. 

Kumunan Rethana Kumaran, 40, was one of 12 surveyors charged with taking bribes from former Shell Bukom employees who ran an illegal scheme to siphon off fuel oil from Shell's physical bunker operations at Singapore.

The surveyors were third-party contractors, hired by Shell to inspect vessels during legitimate bunker deliveries. They allegedly took bribes to look the other way and falsify the amount of the delivery as the conspirators loaded more than the contracted amount aboard the receiving vessel. The Shell employees would sell the ship the extra fuel at below-market prices, then keep the money. 

The former Shell employees allegedly at the heart of the scheme have been identified as Juandi Pungot, Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram and Richard Goh Chee Keong. All have been charged, and alleged ringleader Pungot has already been sentenced to a record-setting jail term of 29 years. 

Surveyor Kumunan Rethana Kumaran was accused of playing a relatively minor role in the overarching scheme. Another surveyor charged in the conspiracy, Noruliman Bakti, allegedly recruited Kumaran for the operation. Kumaran allegedly abetted two instances of fuel oil misappropriation in 2016 in exchange for bribes totaling $12,000, arranged and received through Bakti. The total value of the stolen product in the two cases was estimated at about $630,000. 

Kumaran was sentenced to 15 weeks in jail and restitution equal to the amount of the bribes he received. Alternately, he could spend another four weeks behind bars in lieu of repayment. 

Over the full 10-year span of the scheme, the conspirators allegedly stole about $130 million worth of fuel. Collectively, the 12 surveyors received only a small fraction of the amount of the theft in bribes, less than one percent of the take in total.