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Ex-US Navy commander admits to trading info for prostitutes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Navy Commander Troy Amundson (right) speaks with members of the Philippine Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey in Manila in 2010. (Photo by US Navy)

A high-ranking US Navy commander has pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and prostitution in what has become known as the largest corruption scandal in the force’s history.

Former US Navy Commander Troy Amundson, 50, who once controlled the service's joint military exercises, admitted on Tuesday that he had accepted bribes, including the services of several prostitutes in exchange for sending US Navy business to a Malaysian businessman named Leonard Francis.

Francis, commonly referred to by his friends as "Fat Leonard," is the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), the company that has serviced US Navy ships in Asia for 25 years. Francis is accused of overcharging the Navy for goods and services by an amount that exceeded $30 million.

He has admitted to providing Navy officers with an exhaustive list of gifts, including paying for prostitutes, concert tickets and luxury hotel suites in exchange for classified information that helped his company carry out the scheme, according to the AP.

In one case, he admitted that the company charged $2.7 million for servicing the USS Mustin during a port visit to Thailand in 2011, while more than $1.5 million of the final bill was fraudulent charges.

"Amundson admitted that from September 2012 through October 2013, Francis paid for dinner, drinks, transportation, other entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes for Amundson and other US Navy officers," the US Attorney said in a statement.

Since the beginning of the investigation in 2013, 20 of 29 people questioned in the case have pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them.

Amundson, who faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, was in charge of coordinating exercises with foreign navies from May 2005 to May 2013.

He deleted all email correspondences between himself and Francis after being interviewed by federal investigators in October 2013.

In one case, Amundson promised to give his Malaysian partner in crime proprietary US Navy information, prosecutors said.

"Handoff?... (My friend), your program is awesome. I (Amundson) am a small dog just trying to get a bone... however I am very happy with my small program. I still need five minutes to pass some data when we can meet up. Cannot print," Amundson’s email read, according to the US Attorney's statement.

Shortly after that, Francis sent several prostitutes from Mongolia to Amundson, prosecutors said.

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