US$40k for ‘Fat Leonard’ info

SAN DIEGO: The US government has posted a US$40,000 (RM180,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of the Malaysian defence contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard”, who disappeared weeks before he was set to be sentenced for one of the largest bribery scandals in America’s military history.

Leonard Glenn Francis cut off his ankle monitoring bracelet around 7.35am last Sunday at a San Diego home where he was being held, according to the US Marshals Service.

Neighbours reported seeing U-Haul trucks coming and going from the home days before he disappeared.

Francis had been allowed to remain in home confinement to receive medical care while he cooperated with the prosecution.

With his help, prosecutors secured convictions of 33 of 34 defendants, including more than two dozen Navy officers.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering prostitution services, luxury hotels, cigars, gourmet meals and more than US$500,000 (RM2.249mil) in bribes to US Navy officials and others to help his Singapore-based ship servicing company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd (GDMA).

Prosecutors said the company overcharged the Navy by at least US$35mil (RM157mil) for servicing ships, many of which were routed to ports he controlled in the Pacific.

Ten US agencies are searching for Francis. US authorities also issued a red notice, which asks law enforcement worldwide to provisionally arrest someone with the possibility of extradition.

Malaysia and Singapore both have extradition agreements with the United States.

Francis was arrested in September 2013 on fraud and bribery charges after federal investigators lured him to San Diego on the pretext of a business meeting with US Navy officials.

In a tell-all podcast with host and journalist Tom Wright in 2021, Francis boasted about his ties with the US Navy, saying: “Everybody was in my pocket. I had them in my palm. I was just rolling them around.”

Francis said he wielded so much influence over the commanding officers that he could just say the word and they “would just move the ships for me”.

“I’m non-military, I’m just a civilian, I’m not a US citizen and I had that command over all those senior naval officers,” he said.

After his arrest, he was jailed for over four years before being moved to house arrest in 2018 after being diagnosed with kidney cancer. — AP

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