A company that services US warships when they visit Australian ports has been accused of providing prostitutes to an American naval commander in return for secret intelligence on US naval movements to extort money from the US Seventh Fleet.
The Royal Australian Navy is investigating whether the alleged bribery and prostitution scam has had an impact on its own operations, with the RAN having paid the company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, for port services when berthing its warships in Singapore.
“As the investigation is ongoing, Defence will monitor overseas developments in this case and consider what, if any, investigative activity needs to be taken,” a Defence spokesman said yesterday. The US has banned Glenn Defense Marine Asia from providing services to all visiting American warships including the cruiser USS Chosin, which is in Australia to take part in today’s historic centenary anniversary of the RAN, to be marked by the entry of some 40 warships from around the world into Sydney Harbour.
The company’s Singapore-based chief executive, Leonard Francis, was charged this month in California with bribery by providing prostitutes and rooms in luxury hotels to a US naval commander and also to a US special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
In what the US media has dubbed a “real-life NCIS” drama, the three men are accused of using confidential information about US ship visits in the region to manipulate decisions about the use of port contractors, which allowed Glenn Defense Marine Asia to massively overcharge the US Navy.
Court documents in California allege prostitutes played a key role in the arrangement, with Mr Francis at one point sending a picture of a Thai prostitute to his alleged co-conspirator, US naval investigator John Beliveau, asking: “Your kinda Babe?’ Mr Beliveau replied: “Nice. You bet. Hopefully I’m her kind of guy, hehe.”
The third man charged with the bribery scam was US naval commander Michael Misiewicz, who had a high-level exposure to the movement of the US Seventh Fleet in the Pacific and could influence the timing of US naval visits throughout the region, including to Australia.
Glenn Defense Marine Asia has offices in Sydney and Darwin and provides so-called “husbanding services” to visiting naval ships, including co-ordinating tugboats, port fees, security, food, fuel and water.
In August, the company serviced the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard when it visited Darwin as well as more than a dozen US warships that visited Australia in July as part of the joint Exercise Talisman Sabre.
A spokesman for the US Seventh Fleet said yesterday: “The US Navy will not continue to do business with Glenn Marine in light of the recent charges.”
The conspiracy charges documented in court relate to alleged overcharging of US naval ships in Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand.
Authorities are believed to be investigating whether the alleged conspiracy also led to the US Navy being overcharged for its ship visits elsewhere, including to Australia.
Yesterday, the manager of Glenn Defence Marine Asia’s Sydney office, Tony Prescott, confirmed the US Navy had suspended all contracts with the company in the wake of the charges. He said naval ships from India, Indonesia and Thailand, which are visiting Australia for the RAN’s centenary celebrations, had also abandoned plans to use the company.
“It was a shock to the people in Singapore,” Mr Prescott said.
He said one of his Sydney staff had already resigned because “he didn’t see much of a future” with the company.Source: The Australian – Sex-for-spy-secrets scandal sparks navy inquiry into defence firm
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