News / Asia

US Court to Hold Preliminary Hearing for Navy Bribery Case

In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2010, U.S. navy officer Michael
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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More