On Monday, February 20, former employees of Sea Hub Energy Pte Ltd’s subsidiary Sea Hub Tankers Pte Ltd were sentenced to jail time in the State Courts of the Republic of Singapore for violating DPRK sanctions, as reported by Manifold Times.
The Judge sentenced Cargo Officer Tan Chun Kiat Benny and Assistant Marine Superintendent Ong Chou Hong Aaron to nine and six months in prison, respectively, for their roles in fabricating records and obstructing investigations into the Sea Tanker II.
A source at the Attorney-Chambers General’s said that Jeremy Koh Renfeng, who was working as a cargo officer at the time of the crime and was an accomplice to both Aaron and Benny, is still facing charges.
MT Sea Tanker II was chartered to Golden Ocean Shipping (HK) Limited, a Hong Kong business, for a period of six months starting on September 1, 2018, according to documents obtained by bunkering publication Manifold Times.
Between 26 October 2018 and 8 December 2018, Singapore authorities received information alleging MT Sea Tanker II was engaged in a ship-to-ship transfer with DPRK-flagged vessels.
On 5 November 2018, the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) requested documents from Sea Hub Tankers, including MT Sea Tanker II’s official log book, oil record book part II, charter party agreement(s) and bill of lading(s).
Falsification of documents
Aaron and Benny instructed Jeremy, who was on board MT Sea Tanker II at the relevant period, between November 5 and December 6, 2018, to rewrite the records in the official logbook of MT Sea Tanker II and other records.
The three used WhatsApp to communicate in order to fabricate and produce a false account of the movements of the ship MT Sea Tanker II so that it could be given to the authorities in order to hide its actual movements and cargo operations.
Also, Aaron and Benny gave Jeremy instructions to make sure that Korean cigarettes and any documents with Korean text were removed from the ship or destroyed.
The crew of MT Sea Tanker II did not keep an oil record book, so they fabricated entries in the logbook to suggest that the ship provided marine gas oil (MGO) to several fishing vessels in locations that corresponded with the false narrative in the official logbook in terms of the dates and ostensible locations.
Benny also gave Jeremy the directive to throw away the bunker transfer receipts (BTRs) that were on board the ship because the sums on them did not agree with the fabricated data in the oil record book part II.
Evidence from Aaron’s handphone
Inquiries into Aaron’s phone later turned up photographs of a sounding report and a barge transfer recommendation that showed MT Sea Tanker II transferring about 2600 KL of oil to MT An San I between October 30 and October 31, 2018, according to the images.
MT An San I is thought to be a ship flying the flag of the DPRK. A Chief Officer from Ansan Shipping Company, which is thought to be a North Korean shipping corporation, also gave his approval to the sounding report.
Neither the oil record book part II nor the official logbook contains a record of this transfer to MT An San I. Investigators came to the conclusion that the official logbook and the oil record book part II were fake in this regard.
Computer thrown overboard
Also, on November 16, 2018, Aaron was discovered by investigators giving Jeremy instructions via WhatsApp to see if certain emails and other papers had been printed off and filed, and if so, toss them.
“The hard drive better throw,” Jeremy retorted. After Benny announced that he would be sending a new computer processing unit (CPU) to the ship, Aaron told Jeremy to order Jeremy to destroy the CPU on board MT Sea Tanker II by telling him to “throw CPU into the direct water tonight. then act at night.”
In response to Aaron’s orders, Jeremy said, “Yup the [CPU] lot of shit,” disassembled the CPU, gave Aaron a photo to prove it, and then dumped the disassembled CPU’s components into the sea at night.
Actions ‘frustrated’ CAD investigators
Then, on December 6, 2018, the MT Sea Tanker II made its way back to Singapore. MPA received the fake logbook and oil record book part II, together with other ship documentation, and forwarded them to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).
The falsification of the logbook and oil record book part II impeded CAD’s investigations since it gave a misleading account of the movement and cargo activity of the MT Sea Tanker II at the time and obscured the actual movement and cargo activity.
“Similarly, the disposal of the CPU frustrated CAD’s ability to fully investigate Sea Hub Tankers’ alleged contravention of Regulation 5 of the DPRK regulations as well as the persons criminally responsible behind Sea Hub Tankers’ alleged contravention, as CAD was unable to retrieve relevant information and documents pertaining to MT Sea Tanker II’s activities from the CPU.”
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Source: Manifold Times