Bunkering’s ‘Nick Leeson’ gets 18-month prison sentence

The man who triggered the bunker industry’s greatest bankruptcy four years ago received an 18-month jail sentence yesterday.

Lars Moller, head of Dynamic Oil Trading in Singapore, a subsidiary of OW Bunker, was found guilty at a court in Aalborg of giving a trading partner an unrecoverable credit worth $90.2m without having the authority to do so and without recording it in the company’s accounting system. Prosecutors had sought a five-year sentence for Moller.

When it went bankrupt in 2014, OW Bunker was the world’s largest bunker supplier. It went bust after debts of around $300m were discovered at Dynamic Oil Trading as well as huge hedging losses.

Top management at OW Bunker could still face cases brought against them by investors who claim the company’s 2014 prospectus for its IPO was misleading.

The case of Moller and his desperate deception carried out in Singapore away from his bosses in Europe brought back memories of Nick Leeson, a former derivatives broker whose fraudulent, unauthorised speculative trading in Singapore, for which he was sentenced to prison, caused the spectacular collapse in 1995 of Barings Bank, the United Kingdom’s oldest merchant bank.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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