The US Navy has been cheated out of millions of dollars for several years. Amidst a growing furor in the US defence community, mounting evidence is beginning to surface of a massive corruption scandal that threatens to taint the reputation of the Navy for years to come.
The man at the center of this storm is a Malaysian man, Leonard Glenn Francis, who has a company based in Singapore. He was also known as Fat Leonard for his 160KG frame.
Fat Leonard held contracts to supply US warships and submarines in ports throughout Asia. He was renown for bribing officers with booze, sex and lavish dinners.
Since 2006, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) had opened 27 separate investigations into Leonard’s company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, only to close them due to a lack of evidence and pressure from naval commanders friendly to Leonard.
In June 2006, a Navy officer in Hong Kong told NCIS that Glenn Defense had overcharged the Navy $68,000 to pump sewage from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during a three-day port visit. The officer reported that the Reagan’s supply officers knew the sewage invoice had been falsified but approved it as part of an unorthodox arrangement to repay an old debt to Glenn Defense from a prior port call.
Despite more evidence of widespread fraud, the Navy continued to award contracts to Leonard’s company. In 2011, Leonard won deals valued at US$200 million to service US vessels at ports stretching from the Russian Far East to Australia.
It took NCIS agents and federal prosecutors until 2013 to gather enough evidence to charge Francis and arrest him in a sting operation in San Diego. He has been in federal custody since then, having pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of US$35 million.