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22 Sep, 2022 13:41

Mastermind behind US Navy corruption scandal arrested

Malaysian defense contractor 'Fat Leonard' was captured after escaping house arrest ahead of trial in the US
Mastermind behind US Navy corruption scandal arrested

Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as 'Fat Leonard' – the mastermind behind one of the largest US Navy corruption scandals in history – has been arrested by Venezuelan authorities, the US Marshals Service announced on Wednesday.

Francis was captured at the Caracas airport on Tuesday as he was attempting to board a flight to Russia, according to Interpol Venezuela. The Malaysian businessman had been on the run from US authorities since he escaped house arrest on September 4 by cutting off his GPS ankle bracelet and fleeing his home in San Diego, California.

He was set to appear before a court on September 22 to face sentencing for his crimes of bribing dozens of US Navy officers over the course of several decades.

Fat Leonard was arrested in 2013 and in 2015 pleaded guilty to offering prostitution services, luxury hotels, cigars, gourmet meals and over $500,000 in bribes to high-ranking Navy officials. 

In exchange, the Navy command agreed to dock its ships at ports belonging to Francis across Asia, including Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok, and Manila. There, his company, called Glenn Defense Marine Asia, charged the Navy extortionate rates for fuel, food and security. Prosecutors say the businessman overcharged the Navy by at least $35 million for servicing their ships.

After his arrest, Francis closely cooperated with prosecutors investigating the corruption scheme and gave the names of all the Navy officials he had dealt with over the years. 

As a result, dozens of US naval officers have been implicated in the scheme and prosecutors have secured convictions for 33 out of 34 defendants. Four officers have been convicted so far in relation to the scandal, while another 29 people, including high-ranking navy officials and contractors, have pleaded guilty to accepting Fat Leonard’s bribes.