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Navy bribery probe snares two more from defence contractor

[WASHINGTON] Two former executives of foreign defence contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia Pte Ltd were charged with conspiring to submit phony price quotes and invoices to the US Navy in an effort to steal millions of dollars.

Neil Peterson, 38, and Linda Raja, 43, both of Singapore, were accused of a years-long conspiracy by a grand jury in California, the Justice Department said Thursday in a statement. An 11-count indictment against the two, filed under seal in federal court in San Diego in 2014, was made public on Wednesday.

Mr Peterson and Ms Raja allegedly conspired with Leonard Glenn Francis, the owner of Singapore-based GDMA, to submit more than US$5 million in false claims and invoices to the Navy. The two covered up their fraud by misrepresenting the cost of providing service to Navy ships in Asia, going so far as to submit false price quotes from non-existent companies on letterheads cut and pasted from the Internet, the Justice Department said.

A total of 16 people have been charged in connection with the probe into GDMA. Of those, 11 are current or former US Navy officials. Mr Francis, known in Navy circles as "Fat Leonard", pleaded guilty last year and faces as long as 25 years in prison when he's sentenced next year.

In June, US Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the long-running criminal probe. He's the highest-ranking officer to be ensnared so far. He's also awaiting sentencing.

Mr Peterson and Ms Raja were arrested and are currently in custody in Singapore awaiting extradition, US Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego said in a statement. Lawyers for the two couldn't immediately be identified or reached for comment.

The case is US v Peterson, 14-cr-3703, US District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).