Ship engineer jailed, fined for marine fuel scam

SINGAPORE - A ship's chief engineer was sentenced to two weeks' jail on Thursday over a scam involving US$18,000 ($23,000) worth of marine fuel.

Russian national Antonov Sergey, 34, struck a secret deal with a supplier that meant his vessel received 120 tonnes less fuel than it was supposed to.

The missing fuel was then sold off. In return for his cooperation, Sergey received an US$8,400 bribe.

On Thursday, in addition to the jail sentence, the Russian was fined $30,000.

The court heard that Sergey's ship, the Front Splendour, had ordered 2,700 tonnes of fuel when it docked in Singapore in January. But the Russian agreed to accept only 2,580 tonnes after being bribed, allegedly by cargo officer Jason Choo.

Sergey then submitted false documents to his employers to cover up the shortfall.

Choo, 42, allegedly sold off the rest of the fuel to an unknown buyer at US$150 a tonne and got a surveyor to falsify reports on how much was left in the ship's tanks, the court heard.

On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu said Sergey should be jailed "to send a strong message to the international community that Singapore takes a serious view of illegal bunkering activities".

But defence lawyer Danny Chua argued that a fine would be appropriate as his client had not been soliciting for bribes.

Officers from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau were unable to recover all of the money given to Sergey.

He will have to pay an $8,640 penalty to cover the shortfall.

The chief engineer could have been jailed for up to five years, fined up to $100,000 or both.

Choo and two other alleged accomplices have been charged. Their cases are pending.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.