The “Fat Leonard” scandal is one of the most shocking unknown cases of corruption in the U.S. military. Leonard Glenn Francis, a Malaysian national, bribed U.S. Navy officers with cash, luxury items, and prostitutes in return for classified materials about the movements of U.S. ships and submarines. This ongoing investigation is deeply entrenched in the military’s misogyny and sexual abuse epidemic, and “Fat Leonard” talks with the man himself about his crimes.
A foreigner so embedded in the Navy is one of the biggest national security failures in modern U.S. history. Leonard pulled in millions upon millions of dollars through his bribery and fraud. The government contractor would bribe U.S. officers of the United States Seventh Fleet for information on ships, submarines, confidential contracting information and information on investigations into his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
He would then order his moles in the Navy to redirect aircraft carriers to ports he controlled in the Pacific, so he could exploit the Navy for fuel, food, water and other resources needed when docking. This made Leonard Francis the most powerful military contractor in the Pacific, essentially running a mafia organization from within the U.S. Navy.
Criminal charges have been filed against 33 people in connection to this scandal. 22 have pleaded guilty: Fat Leonard, four of his aides, and 17 Navy officials. Nine others still await trial.
So why has Fat Leonard himself agreed to be on this Project Brazen podcast? Host Tom Wright, co-author of Billion Dollar Whale and former Wall Street Journal reporter, has sat down with Leonard as well as the women who exposed the fraud. Maybe Leonard’s doing this because he still holds the belief that he did nothing wrong, but instead it was the Navy officials and the Navy as an institution that is to blame. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have much longer to live: he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2018.
In “Fat Leonard,” you’ll hear the story from every possible angle. You’ll hear about Leonard’s upbringing and Wolf of Wall Street-like rise to fortune. You’ll hear from Paula Coughlin, the brave whistleblower of the 1991 Tailhook sexual assault scandal in the Navy that set the scene of Leonard’s corruption. Listen to Tom Wright and Bradley Hope’s Project Brazen’s and PRX’s “Fat Leonard,” a scandal like no other.