NZ Navy linked to ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal
The Royal New Zealand Navy contracted services from a nowdefunct overseas company whose director sparked one of the biggest corruption scandals in United States’ navy history.
However, the RNZN has reportedly said it won’t be investigating its relationship with former Malaysian defence contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, who is awaiting sentencing after admitting bribery charges laid by US prosecutors.
Labour has said there was enough of a question mark for navy officials to launch a review of its relationship with Francis’ company, but Prime Minister Bill English said ‘‘it’s a matter for the navy’’.
US prosecutors said Francis bribed US navy officials and used classified information to defraud the US navy of $34m through his business Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).
The Singapore-based contractor provided support services for the US navy but used corruptly gathered intelligence to bolster his business.
After a years-long investigation by US officials, Francis last year admitted bribery charges and co-operated with investigators to secure the arrest of dozens of naval staff, including senior personnel.
He admitted plying them with envelopes of cash, prostitutes, stays at resort hotels and luxury feasts when their ships docked at ports throughout Asia.
The case has been dubbed the ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal, because of Francis’ 160-kg weight.
Francis reportedly travelled with a bevy of prostitutes, whom he used to bribe navy officials with sex, lavish gifts, and cash, in return for classified information which he used to augment his business interests.
In a statement, the RNZN said it had contracted services to GDMA between 2007 and 2011 for ship visits it made to Southeast Asia.
It had paid $710,235 to the company at the time but had no standing or enduring contract with the company.
‘‘The services included tugs, provision of buses and rubbish collection. Such services are routinely acquired for most port visits,’’ the statement said.
The navy hadn’t conducted an internal investigation into its spending with GDMA and didn’t intend to do so, despite the US prosecution, The Guardian reported.
The Royal New Zealand Navy’s naval base in Devonport, Auckland.