A retired US Navy admiral was among nine high-ranking military officers arrested across the country in a burgeoning bribery scandal involving a Malaysian defence contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard.”
The indictment unsealed in federal court in San Diego alleged that Bruce Loveless and the other officers accepted the services of prostitutes, lavish meals and fancy trips from Leonard Francis in exchange for classified information that helped his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
It was the latest indictment in the three-year-old case that has charged more than 20 former or current Navy officials so far and marks one of the Navy’s worst corruption scandals in history. Loveless is the second admiral charged in the case. It is extremely rare for an admiral to face criminal proceedings.
Prosecutors say Francis, whose nickname comes from his wide girth, bilked the Navy out of nearly $35 million largely by overcharging for his company’s services supplying navy ships in the Pacific with food, water, fuel and other necessities.
Navy officers provided classified information to Francis that helped him beat out the competition and in some instances commanders steered ships to ports in the Pacific where his company could charge fake tariffs and fees, prosecutors said.
The new indictment also charged a former Marine colonel.
The defendants were arrested in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado and Virginia. Loveless was arrested at his home in Coronado across the bay from San Diego. None of the defendants or their defence attorneys could be immediately reached for comment.
“This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions, and it was allegedly carried out by the Navy’s highest-ranking officers,” said Acting US Attorney Alana W. Robinson.
Francis has pleaded guilty to fraud and is awaiting sentencing.