Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Malaysian 'Fat Leonard' caught for bribing US Navy

12:19PM Nov 6, 2013 
An extravagantly rich Malaysian defence industry contractor, known in military circles as "Fat Leonard", has been arrested in the United States for using prostitutes, plane tickets and other bribes to hook top US Navy officers in a scheme that overbilled the Pentagon by millions of dollars.

NONEAccording to a news report by the American Associated Press (AP), Leonard Francis (right), who is chief executive of Singapore-based company Glenn Defence Marine Asia Ltd (GDMA) has been accused of servicing US warships in the Pacific region for years, providing fuel, food and other services.

GDMA also invented tariffs by using phony port authority documents, including from Port Klang, the report says.

Prosecutors said US Navy commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz passed confidential information on ship routes to Francis, and together they "moved Navy vessels like chess pieces, diverting aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships to Asian ports with lax oversight, where Francis could inflate costs".

The AP report says the authorities have so far arrested Misiewicz; Francis, the general manager of global government contracts for Francis' company, Alex Wisidagama, and a senior US Navy investigator, John Beliveau II.

Beliveau is accused of keeping Francis abreast of the probe and advising him on how to respond in exchange for such rewards such as luxury trips and prostitution services. 

All those arrested have pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against them.

Francis ‘legendary' for his extravagance

The AP report also quotes US Navy officers unrelated to the case as labelling Francis as "legendary in the military circles" because of his extravagance. 

Francis owns a 70,000sq ft bungalow in an upscale Singapore neighbourhood, which has drawn spectators to it, yearly since 2007, for the lavish, outdoor Christmas decorations, the AP report says.

NONENavy Criminal Investigative Service agents initiated their probe in 2010 and investigations are still ongoing.

Born in Cambodia, Misiewicz (left) hit the limelight in 2010 when he visited his native country. As a child, he had been rescued from the violence of the Khmer Rouge and adopted by an American woman.

The court documents state that Francis lured Misiewicz, who could direct the movements of US warships, into cooperating with him through bribes that included tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand in 2012, supplying prostitutes and a "Lion King production" in Tokyo.

It noted that in October 2012, the warship USS George Washington was scheduled to visit Singapore but the US Navy instead redirected it to Port Klang, Malaysia, one of Francis' preferred ports where his company submitted fake contractor bids.

The US government has suspended its contracts with Francis, AP says. The defendants face up to five years in prison if convicted on their charges of conspiracy to commit bribery.

~ Malaysiakini

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