Three US Naval officers have been indicted in a bribery case concerning husbanding activities in Asian ports. Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau II have all been arrested and accused of conspiracy to commit bribery.
The two naval commanders, Sanchez and Misiewicz, collaborated with Glenn Defense Marina Asian (GDMA) CEO Leonard Francis in regards to where and when naval ships would port to refuel and restock: “According to court records, Sanchez allegedly provided Francis with internal Navy information, such as US Navy ship schedules — some of which were classified — and information about husbanding issues that could affect GDMA, in order to help GDMA win and maintain Navy business,” reported a statement from the US Justice Department.
GDMA is based out of Singapore and operates more than a dozen ports in the Asian-Pacific. Francis, who goes by the alias “Fat Leonard” due to his over-the-top, luxurious lifestyle, is a legend in the Asian military sphere, having provided services to multiple nations’ navies for over 25 years: “He’s a larger-than-life figure. You talk to any captain on any ship that has sailed in the Pacific and they will know exactly who he is,” stated retired Rear Admiral Terry McKnight.
Investigation into the scandal started in 2010 when GDMA charged the US Navy $110,000 for docking fees to stage annual exercises with the Thai Navy; previously, the two countries had arranged that there would be no costs incurred. From there, the extortion has gone on to include the exchange of prostitutes, money, and even Lady Gaga concert tickets.
“As described in the corruption charges unsealed today, senior officials with the United States navy abused their trusted positions as leaders in our armed forces by peddling favorable treatment – and even classified government information – for their personal benefit. In turn, the GDMA executives who illicitly sought information and favours from those navy officials boasted about their unlawful access to those officials and then traded on the influence that they illegally bought. Day by day, this massive Navy fraud and bribery investigation continues to widen, and as the charges announced today show, we will follow the evidence wherever it takes us,” stated Maithili Raman, acting assistant attorney general.
NCIS special agent Beliveau has been arrested for supplying Francis with insider information from the NCIS investigation into the bribery scandal in order to help Francis construct a viable defense against the charges. According to an email exchanged between Francis and Commander Sanchez in December 2011, Francis stated, “I have inside Intel from NCIS and read all the reports. I will show you a copy of a Classified Command File on me from NCIS ha ha.”
If found guilty of the charge of conspiracy to commit bribery, the three officers will each face up to 5 years in prison, a seemingly light punishment for the loss of potential millions of the US defense budget.[Image via Wikimedia Commons]