Loyal son, doting father: The many faces of Leonard Glenn Francis

Loyal son, doting father: The many faces of Leonard Glenn Francis

He's a loyal son who stood up for his mother against his philandering father.

Singapore-based Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis, 49, is also reputed to be a doting father of five, and reportedly held legendary Christmas parties at his Nassim Road bungalow, where the decorations rivalled those of nearby Orchard Road.

He is also the man at the centre of a huge scandal involving top US Navy officials. It involves prostitutes and bribes, and millions being siphoned off, allegedly by Francis, who was charged for bribery in the US after his arrest in September.

Big house

Francis was regularly featured in The Straits Times for the lavish Christmas decorations at his Nassim Road bungalow.

It was reported in 2010 that the budget for the decorations was $100,000.

He said then that he goes all out for the season as it is an important time for him and his family.

It was reported last year that he is married to a 30-year-old housewife and has five children aged between four and 21.

The 28,000 sq ft bungalow is believed to be rented. Rental of a similarly-sized bungalow in that upmarket district would cost at least $30,000 a month.

He is said to own a three-storey house with a swimming pool in an affluent estate in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Madam Christy Sevillo, 37, a domestic helper at a house on Nassim Road, said of the decorations: "There was fake snow everywhere and electronic trees all around the neighbourhood that lit up in blue, red and brown. I could feel the Christmas spirit in the air. It was fantastic."

Mr Vincent Yong, 45, a housekeeper, said: "The decorations must have cost a lot of money."

But he thinks the family may not put up decorations this year.

"They may want to keep a low profile," he said.

Fat Leonard

Born in Penang, he was nicknamed Fat Leonard, Lion King and Big Bro by those in navy circles because of his size.

He is more than 1.8m tall and weighs 158kg, according to court documents. His run-ins with the law have been just as big.

Malaysian newspaper The Star reported that he was sentenced to three years in jail and six strokes of the cane by the High Court in Penang on two counts of firearms possession in 1989.

He was only 21 when he was found with two revolvers.

Back then, Francis attended an expensive private school.

The paper reported that he was influenced by undesirable characters after he opened a pub.

That business left him in debt.

In mitigation, his mother claimed that she had neglected Francis and left him with the task of keeping an eye on his philandering father after she left home with his siblings.

Francis, who was described as an obedient son to his mother, was to make sure that his father did not bring other women home.

His differences with his father were stressful and could have resulted in Francis mixing with bad company when he was younger, according to veteran Malaysian lawyer C.V. Prabhakaran, who represented Francis years ago.

Huge case

Two admirals are under investigation and were placed on leave last Friday.

This follows the earlier arrests of two navy commanders and a senior Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent.

In addition, a captain was relieved of his ship's command last month in connection with the case.

Francis' company, Glenn Defence Marine (Asia), which provided naval logistics and "husbanding" services, has been accused of bribing these people.

He is listed as the director of Glenn Defence Marine, according to checks with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

Apart from the US Navy, its clients include the militaries of countries like Argentina, Germany and India, according to its website.

Fat Leonard's role

Leonard Glenn Francis, or Fat Leonard, as he is known in navy circles, allegedly bribed officials with prostitutes, expensive holidays and tickets to concerts.

In return, they passed confidential information on ship routes to Francis' Singapore-based company, Glenn Defence Marine (Asia).

This allowed him to profit from his dealings with the US Navy.

Vessels were steered to specific Asian ports, such as Phuket in Thailand and Malaysia's Port Klang, where he would overcharge the navy for services, including providing fuel, tugboats, sewage disposal and wharfside security.

Francis eluded arrest for years because he had also bribed officials for information on law enforcement probes and contract audits.

So far, two navy commanders and an agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) have been arrested. Two admirals were placed on leave on Friday.

The US Navy's chief spokesman, Rear Admiral John F. Kirby, told the Washington Post last week that more navy officials are expected to be implicated in the scandal.

NCIS started its probe in 2010.

Francis was arrested in San Diego in September after federal investigators lured him to the US on the pretext of a business meeting with navy officials.

Another Glenn Defence Marine executive, Alex Wisidagama, was arrested as well.

Francis is being held without bail after prosecutors argued that he posed a flight risk.


Role in bribery scandal

Arrested

Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz

  • Provided classified information about where US ships would port.

  • Recommended that ships visit ports preferred by Leonard Glenn Francis.

  • Received kickbacks like tickets for his family to a Lion King show in Tokyo, prostitutes, free travel and tickets to a Lady Gaga concert.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agent John Beliveau

  • Collected information on a US probe into Glenn Defence Marine (Asia) and passed it to Francis.

  • Received kickbacks such as a threeweek trip to Asia, prostitutes and a laptop for his girlfriend.

Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez

  • Provided classified information about ship movements to Glenn Defence Marine (Asia).

  • Partied with navy friends and prostitutes in hotels across Asia, all paid for by Francis.

Placed on leave

Vice-Admiral Ted "Twig" Branch, the service's top intelligence officer, and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, the US Navy's director of intelligence operations.

  • Under investigation as part of the scandal involving Glenn Defence Marine (Asia). They no longer have access to classified material.

  • The Navy said their alleged misconduct occurred before their current assignments and before they became admirals, reported the Washington Post.


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