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NZ Navy linked to Fat Leonard scandal

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/05/2017

The Royal New Zealand Navy paid more than $700,000 to a company run by a man now in jail over a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

The money was paid to Glenn Defence Marine Asia, run by Leonard Glenn Francis, known as Fat Leonard, between 2007 and 2011, according to The Guardian newspaper and confirmed by the Navy.

Francis is currently in prison pending sentencing after pleading guilty to defrauding the US Navy of more than $US34 million ($NZ49 million) over 10 years in what became known as the Fat Leonard Scandal.

He reportedly bribed naval officers and officials with cash, prostitutes, Cuban cigars, Spanish suckling pigs and parties in exchange for information that would allow him to overcharge the US Navy for work carried out by his company.

So far, 20 current and former US Navy officials have been charged, while 10 have pleaded guilty, mostly for bribes.

A rear admiral was last week sentenced to 18 months in jail for lying to investigators.

Prime Minister Bill English said he had watched the NZ Navy's procurement process "up close" over the last eight years and hadn't seen any indication of wrongdoing by New Zealanders.

But he hasn't called for an investigation, instead insisting inquiries go to the Navy.

"Personally from my understanding of how our procurement system works I'd be very surprised if any New Zealand public servant was involved in anything of that nature but it's a matter for the Navy to sort out," he said.

Mr English said he expected the Navy would need some evidence that Kiwis had been involved in the behaviours alleged overseas in order to investigate.

A Defence Force spokesman told NZ Newswire the Navy purchased harbour services from the company.

The total amount was $710,235.

"Such services are routinely acquired for most port visits," the spokesman said.

"The services were purchased as required under local agreements, including with the host nation and using NZDF purchases orders."

The spokesman said the Navy had no standing or enduring contract with the company, Glenn Defence Marine Asia.

According to the Washington Post authorities in the US and Singapore, where Francis' company was based, have filed criminal charges against 27 people over the scandal while 200 are under investigation.

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