PHUKET: Investigators probing bribery involving hundreds of millions of dollars in US Navy contracts are on Phuket now, Phuketwan
Allegations of kickbacks that included prostitutes and luxury travel have been made following the arrest earlier this month of three officials with links to Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
The continuing investigations have a Phuket involvement, we have learned. Details of precisely what's being checked out on Phuket have yet to be revealed.
Glenn Marine Services, which organises transport for visiting US sailors, was embroiled in a pay dispute with a Phuket bus group in May that stranded crew from the USS Nimitz and other warships in Patong.
The bus group claimed it hadn't been paid, although the dispute was resolved after crew members were forced for days to take taxis and tuk-tuks instead.
Two weeks ago, in a separate development, three men - Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz; NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II and contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd - were arrested.
A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Bangkok told Phuketwan
that ''the US government takes allegations of public corruption very seriously, including in the defense sector, because of the value we place on fair and transparent competition in public contracting.''
What's been revealed so far has mostly come from a US Justice Department media release following the arrests.
It's alleged that Misiewicz, 46, used his position as deputy operations officer of the US Seventh Fleet to arrange visits of US Navy ships to ports where Francis's company provided services including tugboats, security, transportation, supplies, fuel and waste removal.
''In return, Francis provided Misiewicz with paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services,'' the US Attorney's office said.
The information Misiewicz passed on to Francis, a citizen of Malaysia who lives in Singapore, was ''confidential.'' Its disclosure could cause serious harm to US national security, the US Attorney's office said.
It detailed Navy ship movements months in advance, according to the US Attorney. Warships' movements are supposed to be a well-guarded secret until shortly before vessels arrive off Phuket or other ports.
A separate complaint alleges Beliveau, 44, provided Francis with information about an NCIS fraud investigation into his company's dealings with the Navy.
''In exchange, Francis provided Beliveau with, among other things, paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services,'' the US attorney's office said.
While Bangkok is mentioned in the media release, Phuket is not. CNN reported that Francis arranged for a female escort to entertain Beliveau in Bangkok.
In e-mail correspondence between the two as detailed in the complaint, Francis attached a picture of the escort saying: ''Joyce your kinda Babe?''
Beliveau responded: ''Nice. You bet. Hopefuly I'm her kinda guy, hehe.''
Francis allegedly paid for three days of the escort's time, including her airfare.
The complaint alleges that Francis received the three-day trip to Thailand, escort included; a laptop for a female acquaintance; and went on a three-week, five-country trip through Asia.
CNN reported that Misiewicz was born in Cambodia and adopted by an American woman serving in the US Army in Phnom Penh.
He came to the US in 1973, a few years before the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia and went on to earn his commission from the US Naval Academy.
Inquiries in Phuket are believed to be continuing.
US Justice Department Release, September 17, 2013
SAN DIEGO, CA: Three individuals - a commander in the United States Navy, a special agentfor the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the CEO of a multinational defense contractor - were charged in criminal complaints unsealed today in connection with two separate bribery schemes.
The complaints allege that Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of Singapore-based Glenn DefenseMarine Asia Ltd. (GDMA), paid US Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II with luxury travel and prostitutes in exchange for confidential information and other assistance in relation to hundreds of millions of dollars in Navy contracts.
Francis was arrested in San Diego yesterday evening and made his initial appearance in federal court this afternoon before US Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford.
Also yesterday, Misiewicz and Beliveau were arrested in Colorado and Virginia, respectively. The next date in the cases is a hearing set for Friday, September 20, 2013 at 9.30am before US Magistrate Judge William McCurine Jr., in federal court in San Diego, to determine whether Francis should be detained as a flight risk and as a risk to obstruct justice.
Francis will remain in custody without bond pending Friday's hearing. The United States will seek the removal of Misiewicz and Beliveau to San Diego to face the charges.
US Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California and Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department's Criminal Division made the announcement after the complaints were unsealed.
As set forth in the complaints, Francis, a Malaysian national who resides in Singapore, is the chief executive officer and president of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. (GDMA), a multi-national corporation with headquarters in Singapore and operating locations in other countries, including Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States.
GDMA provides hundreds of millions of dollars in ''husbanding'' services to the US Navy, which involves the coordinating, scheduling and procurement of items and services required by ships and submarines when they arrive at port.
These services include, for example, providing tugboats and fenders; paying port authority and customs fees; furnishing security and transportation; supplying provisions, fuel and water; and removing trash and collecting liquid waste.
Misiewicz, 46, is a commander and captain-select in the U.S. Navy, assigned to US Northern Command located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Before this position, he served as the deputy operations officer for the US Commander, Seventh Fleet aboard the USS Blue Ridge. The Seventh Fleet's area of operations consists of 48 million square miles extending from Japan to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and from Vladivostok, Russia, to Australia.
As the deputy operations officer, Misiewicz had high-level exposure to the operational planning for ships in the Seventh Fleet and for any US Navy ship traveling through the Seventh Fleet's area of responsibility. He also held influence in determining or modifying the schedule of port visits for US Navy vessels.
Beliveau, 44, is a supervisory special agent for NCIS at Quantico, Va. In that position, he has had access to the internal NCIS database containing investigative reporting, including reports into an investigation by NCIS into possible fraud committed by GDMA in billing the US Navy under its contracts.
According to one of the criminal complaints, Misiewicz and Francis allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to commit bribery. As part of the conspiracy, Misiewicz sent to Francis information that the Navy had classified as ''Confidential,'' including schedules reflecting the movements of Navy ships months in advance.
Misiewicz also operated as an advocate within the Navy for GDMA's interests, urging decisions about port visits and contractor usage that were designed to benefit GDMA.
In return, Francis provided Misiewicz with paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services. To communicate with Francis privately, Misiewicz set up a special personal email account with a name that included Francis's initials.
As set forth in another complaint, Beliveau and Francis allegedly entered into a separate bribery conspiracy. As part of that conspiracy, Beliveau provided Francis with confidential information about the NCIS criminal fraud investigation into GDMA by secretly downloading reports from the NCIS database and conveying the information to Francis.
Beliveau also allegedly provided Francis guidance as to how to deal with NCIS inquiries. In exchange, Francis provided Beliveau with, among other things, paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services.
Each defendant was charged with conspiring to commit bribery, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.