KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — A Malaysian defence contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” due for sentencing for orchestrating one of the largest bribery scandals in US Navy history has been arrested in Venezuela after he absconded from house arrest, authorities have said.
According to US-based CBS News, the international manhunt for Leonard Glenn Francis ended with his arrest by Venezuelan authorities at the Simón Bolívar International Airport as he was about to board an airplane for another country.
In confirming his arrest, the US Marshals Service said Francis was detained on an Interpol red notice at the airport in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas while boarding a flight to Cuba.
He had been under house arrest in San Diego and was days away from being sentenced when he cut off his ankle bracelet in early September and fled.
Francis was first arrested in San Diego in 2013 and subsequently pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges he provided US Navy officers with cash, gifts and sex workers in exchange for classified information about where ships were scheduled to dock.
It was said he would then treat his targets with expensive gifts for their spouses and pay for a week-long holiday trip to Singapore and Malaysia for one of their families.
He allegedly did all of this so he could “prod his moles” on the Blue Ridge, the US Navy’s “floating headquarters in Asia”, to send other aircraft carriers and vessels to ports controlled by his Singapore-based company Glenn Defence Marine Asia.
He also reportedly persuaded these officers to divert other US-based vessels to his ports just so he could overcharge for fuel, supplies and other services.
Due to health issues, Francis was released on medical furlough and placed on house arrest in 2018, under the supervision of Pretrial Services, a federal agency in the US that keeps an eye on defendants who are out of custody until sentencing.
He had been reportedly working as a cooperating witness for federal prosecutors who were building cases against others involved in the scandal while he was in home confinement.