The Washington Post does not do much investigating of waste, fraud, and abuse in federal agencies anymore, but it has done a great job with the Fat Leonard Navy corruption scandal. I discussed prior WaPo stories on the scandal here and here.
The newspaper has another pair of stories today (here and here) describing how Leonard Glenn Francis cozied up to Navy leaders in the Pacific to win lucrative deals for resupplying ships. He cashed in on overpriced contracts and fraudulent invoices, and he had numerous moles inside the Navy to steer business and profits his way. He wined and dined Navy officers, providing them with gifts, prostitutes, and other favors to get their help and protection.
The upshot: If so many Navy leaders were easily seduced by an old-fashioned con artist, does it mean that America’s other military and intelligence services are just as vulnerable to low-tech bribery and infiltration?
Here are excerpts from the WaPo story:
In a case that ranks as the worst corruption scandal in Navy history, the Justice Department has charged 15 officers and one enlisted sailor who served on the Blue Ridge with taking bribes from or lying about their ties to Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based tycoon who held lucrative contracts to service Navy ships and submarines in Asian ports.
For the better part of a decade, as part of a massive scam to defraud the Navy, Francis systematically infiltrated the Blue Ridge to a degree that is only now coming into focus, more than four years after the defense contractor’s arrest, according to the documents from federal court and the Navy, as well as interviews with Navy officials and associates of Francis.
Prosecutors say nine sailors from the 7th Fleet flagship leaked classified information about ship movements and other secrets to Francis, a Malaysian citizen, making the Blue Ridge perhaps the most widely compromised U.S. military headquarters of the modern era.
The Navy is investigating dozens of others who served on the ship, which is based in Japan, for possible violations of military law or ethics rules, according to documents and interviews.
Between 2006 and 2013, Francis doled out illicit gifts, hosted epicurean feasts and sponsored sex parties for Blue Ridge personnel on at least 45 occasions, according to federal court records and Navy documents obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.
Officers from the Blue Ridge consumed or pocketed about $1 million in gourmet meals, liquor, cash, vacations, airline tickets, tailored suits, Cuban cigars, luxury watches, cases of beef, designer handbags, antique furniture and concert tickets — and reveled in the attention of an armada of prostitutes, records show.
That’s your government folks.
Some of the systematic reasons for bureaucratic failure in the government are discussed here.