A probe examining the relationship between a Malaysian businessman and ranking members of the U.S. Navy has expanded, according to internal investigators interviewed by the Washington Post.
Known as the “Fat Leonard” scandal, the corruption investigation is the largest in Navy history.
Confirmed by officials Monday, the inquiry into widespread corruption now includes up to 440 current or formal U.S. Navy personnel, including 60 admirals. Another 230 individuals associated with the affair have been cleared of wrongdoing.
Alerted by overbilling from Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a Singapore-based subsidiary of Glenn Marine Group which provides ship chandlery services to U.S. Navy vessels docked along Pacific ports, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service opened an investigation in 2010.
GDMA was almost exclusively dependent on contracts with the U.S. Navy.
Originally at the center of the probe was Leonard Glenn Francis, GDMA’s head, who is believed to have bribed U.S. naval personnel with the U.S. 7th Fleet in exchange for classified information regarding the movement of ships, details over Navy contracts and warnings related to investigators probing his firm.
Investigators believe U.S. naval personnel received gifts and signed off on Francis’ contracts for repeat services of American ships.
Francis was lured to the U.S. in 2013, charged, and is awaiting sentencing in San Diego. Features of his bribery were extravagant parties, prostitutes, cash and travel expenses.
A scandal which has involved hundreds, 18 guilty pleas have been secured and another 14 awaiting trial. It is estimated Francis defrauded the Navy of over $35 million.
[Washington Post] [South China Morning Post] [Photo courtesy War is Boring]