“Fat Leonard” fell, wanted for the biggest case of corruption in the US Navy: he was in Venezuela and was trying to travel to Russia

Leonard Francis, known as Fat Leonard

Venezuelan police detained a fugitive Malaysian businessman nicknamed “Fat Leonard”, which is in the center of a major bribery scandal of the US Navy, when preparing to leave the country for Russiareported the Venezuelan Interpol.

Leonard Glenn Francis was detained Wednesday at the country’s main international airport under a red notice requested by the United States for crimes of corruption and bribery, said the head of Interpol in Venezuela in a statement posted on Instagram.

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The Malaysian businessman took off his tracking anklet and escaped from house arrest in the United States earlier this month before his imminent sentencereported the newspaper San Diego Union-Tribune. Then the US government offered a $40,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the contractor.

Prosecutors in the case said that, in exchange for classified information and contracts, Francis had regaled Navy officers with cash, gourmet food, expensive cigars, rare cognac, and wild sex parties at luxury hotels.

Francis pleaded guilty to bribery in January 2015 and agreed to forfeit $35 million in ill-gotten gains. Under that plea agreement, Francis paid about $500,000 in bribes to Navy officials.

He arrived in Venezuela from Mexico, with a stopover in Cuba, and planned to continue to Russiaaccording to the Interpol statement. The authorities will now start their extradition procedure, he added.

US authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The escape of the ‘Fat Leonard’ novel in the US

An overflowing and jovial personality made a Malaysian businessman known as “Fat Leonard” obtain advantageous contracts throughout Asia and become rich offering parties in which everything happened and lavish gifts to US Navy officers.

Leonard Francis, known as Fat Leonard

What is known about the case:


Francis ran a freight forwarding service for his family called Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd, or GDMA, based in Singapore, which supplied ships with water, food and fuel. enigmatic figure, Francis was the primary contact for US Navy ships in Asian ports for more than two decades. There are pictures of him eating and partying with high-ranking Navy officers, to whom he would give expensive cigars, concert tickets, and take them to lavish parties in luxury hotels from Thailand to the Philippines.

In exchange for it, and money, officers turned a blind eye when he overcharged for his services. When the authorities realized what was happening, they set him up. They took him to San Diego with stories and arrested him there in a hotel in 2013. Two years later he pleaded guilty, admitting that he had offered more than $500,000 in bribes to Navy officials, contractors and others who helped him. He used his influence to get commanders to take their ships to ports he controlled, so he could hide his charges for services he hadn’t rendered. Prosecutors say he defrauded the Navy of at least $35 million.


Francis was exposed to 25 years in prison, but his sentence was postponed again and again because he was a key witness in the proceedings against the Navy officers. He reached an agreement with prosecutors in which he promised to cooperate with the investigation, and with his help, 33 of 34 defendants were convicted, including more than two dozen naval officers.

While in custody, he was hospitalized and treated for kidney cancer and other health problems, according to legal documents. After being discharged, a judge ordered in 2018 that he continue his treatments from a condominium. He had to wear a GPS monitor and be watched by security guards 24 hours a day.


Francis had problems with the owner of the condo and had to leave, according to legal documents. But he did not go back to jail. His lawyer convinced the judge in his case to allow him to continue outside, receiving medical attention. He moved to another rented property. He was under house arrest for almost five years. District Judge Janis Sammartino repeatedly expressed reservations about the settlement, by which Francis paid the security firm charged with keeping an eye on him. It is unclear how many people were assigned to guard him or where they were stationed.. The arrangement was modified several times, depending on Francis’s health.

In a hearing in December 2020, the judge learned that on one occasion the house was not guarded for three hours because the guards went to eat.


Yes. Sammartino disputed Francis’ attorney’s assertion that he was too ill to be treated by Bureau of Prisons staff. She was also surprised to learn that Francis’ three children and their mother were living on the same property. Her lawyer asked the judge to allow her to walk her children to school and go to the supermarket from time to time. The judge, however, said that too many concessions had already been made to her, according to court documents.

also arose doubts about whether his health really justified his staying out of prison. At the end of 2020, the judge received a letter from a San Diego surgeon who had treated Francis and who said that he was already recovered. But “Fat Leonard’s” lawyer maintained that there were other health problems and the Malaysian received authorization to remain outside until May 23, 2022. No other documents on the housing issue were released.


the neighbors saw a U-Haul moving truck coming and going as of Friday. Two days later, on Sunday, Francis removed the monitor using scissors. to cut metals and disappeared. The police were called six hours later.


Ten security agencies were searching for Francis and his escape was reported to Mexican authorities, as his home is only a 40-minute drive from the Mexican border.

(With information from Reuters and AP)


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