Singapore-based contractor admits plot to defraud US Navy of millions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 9:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 9:22pm


A manager of a Singapore-based company accused of cheating the US Navy out of millions of dollars has pleaded guilty in the case.

Alex Wisidagama entered a guilty plea in US federal court on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims.

Wisidagama is the former general manager of global government contracts for Glenn Defence Marine Asia (GDMA), which serviced ships in the Pacific. He admitted knowing that GDMA submitted fictitious claims resulting in losses to the navy of more than US$20 million.

GDMA submitted hundreds of false bids, allegedly from competitors for items ranging from fuel to rubbish collection to the navy, according to the complaint.

Wisidagama is the cousin of Leonard Glenn Francis, the GDMA chief executive known in military circles as "Fat Leonard".

The two were arrested last year in San Diego during a sting operation by military investigators who said Francis offered holidays and prostitutes to naval officers in exchange for information and advice, so GDMA could overbill the US Navy.

Francis has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in custody in San Diego.

Wisidagama faces up to 10 years in prison and an order of mandatory restitution when he is sentenced on June 13.

His lawyer, Knut Johnson, said the plea deal was in Wisidagama's best interest by capping off the prison time, which could have turned into decades if he had been indicted on all the charges in the case.

Johnson said Wisidagama, who has a child, might request a transfer so he could be closer to his family in Singapore.

The case involves claims that navy officials accepted the holidays and prostitute services in exchange for providing information and advice to GDMA, including changing ship routes to ports where the company could more easily pull off its scheme.

At least six naval officers have been implicated. Two commanders were arrested and charged, pleading not guilty. Two navy admirals have lost their security clearances, and two other navy officials have been relieved of their duties but not charged.