The civilian chief of the US Navy said Friday he expects more revelations to emerge in a multi-million dollar bribery scandal that has already ensnared several senior naval officers.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said he told investigators examining ship supply contracts form Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) to take the case “wherever it leads.”
“I think it’s fair to say that there will be more disclosures coming on GDMA,” Mabus said when asked if others would be charged.
“What kind of disclosures those are, I’m not at liberty to say. But I certainly don’t think we’ve seen the end of it,” Mabus told a news conference.
The case, involving millions of dollars in contracts and implicating senior officers, is one of the biggest scandals to hit the navy in years.
Mabus spoke only days after a special agent in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for divulging confidential information to Glenn Defense Marine Asia about the status of investigations into the firm.
John Bertrand Beliveau Jr., 44, admitted to regularly searching NCIS databases for details of probes into Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis — known as “Fat Leonard” — to help him dodge US investigators.
In addition, two naval officers have been charged by federal prosecutors with giving special treatment to the contractor in return for cash, luxury travel, prostitutes and other perks.
Two other officers have been suspended and two admirals working in military intelligence had their access to classified information stripped pending the outcome of the investigation.
Mabus said he was determined to see the entire case explored and that the navy would not try to play down the results.
“I told NCIS when I was being briefed on this case, the one consistent thing I told them, every single time we met was ‘take this investigation wherever it leads. It doesn’t matter. Take it wherever it leads.'”
He added: “I would rather get bad headlines than let bad people get away.”
Glenn Defense Marine Asia’s chief executive, Francis, is charged with conspiring to bribe naval and government officials. Federal prosecutors allege naval officers divulged confidential ship movements to GDMA’s Francis and diverted vessels to ports requested by the businessman.
Mabus announced fresh initiatives on Friday designed to prevent fraud in contracting and to hold companies and officers accountable.
However, he argued that the scandal did not signal a widespread problem with corruption and instead showed the navy’s procedures succeeded in exposing suspected fraud linked to GDMA.
“I think the public discussion to date has sometimes missed the fact that the concerns about Glenn Defense Marine were first raised by people inside the navy, that the navy acted on these suspicions by building a case against the company, its owners, and implicated navy officials …” Mabus said.
He added that the vast majority of navy officers handled contracts ethically and that the alleged misconduct of a few should not tarnish their reputation.
Since 2009, when Mabus took over as navy secretary, the number of naval contractors suspended for fraud or poor performance has increased dramatically, he said.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]