Washington, March 15 (IANS) The US Justice Department has charged former US Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless and eight other military personnel with corruption and other crimes in the "Fat Leonard" bribery case.
They are accused of taking bribes over an eight-year period from Singapore-based defence contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, nicknamed "Fat Leonard," and the former chief of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.
In exchange, they allegedly provided "Fat Leonard" with classified information which he then used to gouge the Navy for servicing ships, said local media reports. Francis has already pleaded guilty to defrauding the US Navy of tens of millions of US dollars.
The bribes the defendants took include the services of prostitutes, lavish meals, watches worth $25,000, boxes of Cohiba cigars worth $2,000 and bottles of cognac worth $2,000, according to the indictment unsealed in a federal court in San Diego.
In a party with prostitutes in the presidential suite at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel in the Philippines in May 2008, "the conspirators drank all the Dom Perignon (Champagne) available," according to the indictment. The total expense exceeded $50,000.
"This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions, and it was allegedly carried out by the Navy's highest-ranking officers," Acting US Attorney Alana Robinson said in a statement.
"The alleged conduct amounts to a staggering degree of corruption by the most prominent leaders of the Seventh Fleet -- the largest fleet in the US Navy -- actively worked together as a team to trade secrets for sex, serving the interests of a greedy foreign defense contractor, and not those of their own country," said Robinson.
As of Tuesday, 25 people have been charged in connection with the corruption and fraud investigation, according to a USA Today report.
Among all the charged, 20 are current or former US Navy officials and five are Glenn Defense executives, said the report.