Malaysian ‘Fat Leonard’ to spill the beans on worst US navy scandal

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Leonard Glenn Francis, a Malaysian businessman behind the US navy’s worst corruption scandal, is poised to spill the beans through a nine-episode weekly podcast beginning Oct 5.

Award-winning journalist Tom Wright, of Billion Dollar Whale fame, who will be hosting the podcast on his YouTube channel, said: “You will never look at the US military the same way again.”

It will be the first time that Francis will be talking publicly about the huge scandal that had rocked the US Navy and involved some senior officials.

Wright wrote in his Project Brazen YouTube channel that his interview with Francis would be available on the podcasts on Apple, Spotify and “wherever you listen” and it will be held weekly from Oct 5.

Journalist Wong Chun Wai and Wright will appear on the former’s webcast on Sept 29 at 8.30pm on Facebook and YouTube. The two will talk about the scandal as a prelude to the launching of the podcasts.

Francis, 53, commonly known as “Fat Leonard”, was accused of providing cash, prostitutes, travel expenses, luxury items, and concert tickets to many US navy officers, including those from the US Seventh Fleet.

Washington Post

He pleaded guilty to bribery and defrauding the military of US$35 million (RM146 million) although some officials felt the monetary losses sustained by the navy were far greater.

According to sources, he has been under special house arrest in San Diego since his arrest in 2013 and is “being” watched closely by the authorities pending the disposal of his case.

Between 2006 and 2013, Francis doled out illicit gifts, hosted feasts and sponsored sex parties for personnel on the Blue Ridge flagship on at least 45 occasions, according to federal court records and navy documents obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

It said officers from the Blue Ridge consumed or pocketed about $1 million (RM4.19 million) in gourmet meals, liquor, cash, vacations, airline tickets, tailored suits, Cuban cigars, luxury watches, beef, designer handbags, antique furniture and concert tickets.

The daily further said a master recruiter, Francis assembled a network of informants to feed him secret itineraries, court documents show.

“Wielding remarkable influence for a foreigner, he then prodded his moles on the Blue Ridge to reroute aircraft carriers and other vessels to ports controlled by his firm so that he could more easily overcharge the Navy for fuel, other supplies, and services.”

Francis first got into trouble with the law back in 1989 as a 21-year-old in Penang when he was sentenced to three years’ jail and six strokes of the cane by the Penang High Court for possession of two revolvers while being involved in running a pub.