Fat Leonard Scandal
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
It’s one of numerous examples of deep-seated US public and private corruption.
Exposing some wrongdoing leaves most of it ignored and unchecked. Most often, ordinary people alone are held accountable for misconduct, much of it too minor to matter like illicit drug use and petty theft.
Targeting higher-ups when it happens is the exception proving the rule that most members of America’s privileged class are untouchable.
It’s especially so when guilty of high crimes like naked aggression, ecocide, and Wall Street grand theft, manipulating markets and scamming investors for big profits, making money the old-fashioned way by stealing it.
The Washington Post reported on the Fat Leonard scandal last year, much more on it this week.
In June 2016 it reported about 350-pound Malaysian national maritime tycoon dubbed Fat Leonard Francis’ dubious dealings – seducing US Navy admirals and other officers with bribes, sex, wining and dining, describing him as “legendary on the high seas for his charm and appetite for excess,” adding:
“For years, the Singapore-based businessman had showered navy officers with gifts, epicurean dinners, prostitutes and, if necessary, cash bribes so they would look the other way while he swindled the navy to refuel and resupply its ships.”
In September 2013, he was lured to San Diego, California, arrested in his hotel suite, along with others involved in his scam.
Documents incriminating his shenanigans were seized. His arrest “exposed…a staggering degree of corruption within the US Navy itself,” said WaPo.
In November 2013, one of my articles headlined Massive Pentagon Waste, Fraud and Grand Theft, explaining a black hole of Pentagon unaccountability, wasting trillions of dollars.
Sweetheart deals, bribes and kickbacks are commonplace. So is routine contractor over-billing. Unaccountability is standard practice. The Defense Department has a virtual blank check, mafia operations small business by comparison.
Huge Pentagon amounts are spent on what’s not needed, no congressional oversight checking out-of-control waste, fraud and abuse – $600 toilet seats and $7,600 coffee makers pocket change compared to big bucks scammed from taxpayers.
It’s been going on for decades, the Fat Leonard scandal a drop in a huge bucket.
On November 5, WaPo headlined “ ‘Fat Leonard’ probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals,” saying:
“(H)undreds of other US Navy officers under scrutiny for their contacts with” with Francis. His seduction included “alcohol-soaked, after-dinner parties, which often featured imported prostitutes and sometimes lasted for days, according to federal court records.”
Fat Leonard or Leonard the Legend was known in navy circles “for his wild-side lifestyle, spent decades cultivating relationships with officers, many of whom developed a blind spot to his fraudulent ways.”
“Even while he and his firm were being targeted by Navy criminal investigators, he received VIP invitations to ceremonies in Annapolis and Pearl Harbor, where he hobnobbed with four-star admirals, according to photographs obtained by The Washington Post.”
In 2013, Justice Department charges were filed against him and 28 others, including two admirals – the case called the worst corruption scandal in navy history.
Not exactly as explained above – out-of-control Pentagon corruption ongoing for decades, a multi-trillion dollar scam to this day.
The Navy Department is reviewing the conduct of 440 other active duty and retired personnel, including 60 current and former admirals, WaPo explained – only 10 individuals identified, few details provided.
Only five so far face charges, notably no admirals, 40 others for ethical misconduct, not accusations of criminality.
The Defense Department, Pentagon and military branches are notorious for coverup and denial of offenses that would land ordinary people in prison longterm.
The Fat Leonard scandal has been around for over four years. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to bribery and defrauding the navy of over $35 million.
He’s jailed in San Diego awaiting sentencing. His notorious activities and widespread over-billing was “an open secret for years,” said WaPo, complaints dating from 2006.
He’ll likely be imprisoned, perhaps paroled later on. Indicting and convicting culpable admirals is highly unlikely – other than perhaps one or two hung out to dry. Even then, they’re unlikely to end up behind bars.
With rare exceptions, small fries alone are prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned, the way US “justice” commonly works.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”