News / Asia

US Court to Hold Preliminary Hearing for Navy Bribery Case

In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2010, U.S. navy officer Michael "Vannak Khem" Misiewicz becomes emotional as he embraces his aunt Samrith Sokha, 72, at Cambodian coastal international see port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2010, U.S. navy officer Michael "Vannak Khem" Misiewicz becomes emotional as he embraces his aunt Samrith Sokha, 72, at Cambodian coastal international see port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Daniel Schearf
This week a U.S. Court opens a hearing into a U.S. Navy bribery scandal involving millions of dollars in excess charges for servicing American ships at Asian ports. The charges against two Singapore-based businessmen, a Navy commander and senior Navy investigator have raised eyebrows in the region as the case also suggests breaches of military security.

A Federal court in San Diego on Friday holds a pre-trial hearing for Navy commander Michael Misiewicz, Navy investigator John Beliveau, and defense contractors Leonard Francis and Alex Wisidigama. The men are facing charges of conspiracy to commit bribery. All have pleaded not guilty.
 
Prosecutors say Singapore-based contract company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, GDMA, provided the Navy men with gifts including prostitutes, luxury travel, and concert tickets.
 
In return, Misiewicz is alleged to have steered Navy ships based mainly in Japan to visits at ports with lax oversight in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Prosecutors say GDMA then overcharged the Navy by millions of dollars for food, fuel, waste removal, and other services through fraudulent invoices and fake tariffs.
 
Navy investigator Beliveau is alleged to have fed Francis, the head of the company, internal information on the three-year probe to warn him and help prepare a defense.
 
Carl Thayer, a former professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy, said the Navy scandal is of a magnitude he has never seen.
 
“There have been the odd occasions when reports have been released of people, 'loose lips sink ships', of making remarks in public or in private that contained classified information. But, not on this organized a scale itself and not involving, specifically, in this area of the world in my recent memory,” Thayer said.
 
Commander William Marks, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, based in Japan, acknowledged the scandal's allegations can harm the perception of confidence in U.S. Navy command.
 
“So, these are certainly hard for us in the Navy, but we take a certain amount of pride in holding ourselves to the highest possible standards," Marks said. "The Navy is known for its accountability. Primarily, more than anything, we take very great concern into the ultimate accountability of the commanding officer.”
 
Navy commander Misiewicz is also alleged to have given Francis classified information on planned warship movements in the region, months in advance, though neither has been charged with endangering national security.
 
The charges filed in connection with the case prompted authorities in Australia, a major U.S. ally, to investigate whether the Australian Navy was affected. GDMA has been servicing navies in Asia for 25 years, including Australia's, in ports from Vladivostok to Sydney.
 
Thayer said while embarrassing to the U.S. Navy in Asia, the controversy will increase scrutiny of relations between militaries and contractors.
 
“So, I think it's kind of a one-off affair. It's not seen as, you know, symptomatic of the entire U.S. Navy," Thayer said. "These things happen from time to time... But, the concern is what is the immediate security impact? And, in this case, it involves the movement of U.S. warships.”
 
The four men were arrested in September and October after Navy Officers lured Francis, a Malaysian citizen, to San Diego on the false pretense of a business meeting.
 
The independent U.S. military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, reports the investigation on GDMA began in 2010 when suspicious billing was first spotted.
 
The company charged the Navy $110,000 in dockage fees for supporting annual exercises with the Thai Navy despite an agreement between the countries for no costs.
 
Captain Daniel Dusek of the USS Bonhomme Richard is also under investigation and was in October relieved of duty by Rear Admiral Hugh Wetherald. Navy spokesman Marks underscores that he was not charged with any wrongdoing but that the investigation was detrimental to his ability to lead those under his command.
 
“Part of the hallmarks of being a commanding officer is having the confidence and trust of people both below you and above you, your seniors," Marks said. "Based on Admiral Wetherald's judgment, there was a loss in that confidence and for that reason he relieved Captain Dusek Of his command.”
 
The four men charged could face up to five years in prison if convicted. But the corruption case could expand further. Court documents allege other Navy personnel accepted gifts from Francis but no names or details have been released.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sandra wiley from: colorado springs colorado
December 01, 2013 2:09 PM
Micheal misiewicz is being used,can't anyone see that, they should be looking at the admirals that controlled the 7th fleet, even the captians, so what if Misiewicz took his children and wife to see the lion king, congress excepts bribes from day one, don't kid your self into thinking otherwise. give this man a break, Jail francis for life, and get on with bringing the navy back to higher standards. Sandra U.S.A.


by: miller from: north carolina
November 06, 2013 7:02 PM
I bet this has been going on for sometime long before CDR.Misiewicz got caught.The Navy needs to do a investigation that covers the past since this company has done business with the Navy.Also why is it always CDR. Misiewicz is the only photo being used what about the other two.. CDR. Misiewicz has four children which are suffering from this plus a wife who has supported him through his Navy career.. They are suffering emontionally plus financially. they had nothing to do with the mess the CDR has gotten himself in to.. I hope the trial does him right because he has a spotless record until now..Dottie

In Response

by: Jess from: Australia
November 10, 2013 8:04 PM
Spotless record until now or just not caught before. I hope this companies dealings for the last 25 years get looked at as I think there will be more people caught up. What about the families of the companies that missed out on work because of these things or lost contracts because GDMA one tenders based on price for ports that were steered away from.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid