The US Marshals Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are offering a combined reward of $40,000 for information leading to the arrest of Leonard Francis better known as ‘Fat Leonard’.
The Malaysian-born fugitive who was under house arrest in the US city of San Diego gave authorities the slip by cutting off his GPS ankle monitor.
The incident happened on 4 September just before he was due to be sentenced for his part in a $35m bribery scandal.
The former Singapore-based military contractor, who pleaded guilty in 2015 of bribing navy officials, was on home-confinement after taking a plea deal to cooperate with the prosecution.
But unbeknown to federal officials, he had for several days been moving belongings out of a property where he lived with his mother and daughter, according to media reports.
Neighbours told the federal authorities that they saw several U-Haul trucks “coming in and out of the residence”, a US marshal was quoted as saying.
His current whereabouts are unknown.
Francis — a larger-than-life character — was arrested in September 2013 on fraud and bribery charges after federal officials lured him to San Diego on the pretext of a business meeting with US navy officials.
His company, Glenn Defence Marine Asia (GDMA), provided “husbanding” services under contracts with the US Navy to support its operations in the Pacific Ocean.
Husbanding involved the coordinating, scheduling, and direct and indirect procurement of items and services required by ships and submarines when they arrive at port.
However, Francis used kickbacks to US Navy officials such as alcohol, entertainment, nights at luxury hotels and the services of prostitutes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure lucrative naval contracts.
In one instance, he was able to arrange for an aircraft carrier — the USS Abraham Lincoln — to stop at Port Klang, Malaysia, a port terminal owned by Francis. The 2010 port visit cost the US about $1.6m, officials said.
To date, the overarching fraud and bribery investigation has resulted in federal criminal charges against 34 US Navy officials, defense contractors and the GDMA corporation.
So far, 28 of those have pleaded guilty, admitting collectively that they accepted millions of dollars’ worth of hospitality from Francis.
If convicted, Francis himself faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail.