A Singaporean woman, Gursharan Kaur Sharon Rachael, has been sentenced to a prison term of two years and nine months for her participation in what is known as the “Fat Leonard Scandal.” Gursharan, 57, was convicted in a financial conspiracy and bribery scandal that is said to be the largest in the history of the U.S. Navy.
The former lead contract specialist with the U.S. Navy was said to have sold sensitive U.S. Navy information and collected over S$130,000 in the process. This she did with Leonard Glenn Francis (known as Fat Leonard), C.E.O. of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (G.D.M.A.), a Malaysian maritime services company.
Top US Navy Officials Also Convicted, Including Rear Admiral Gilbeau
Gursharan ran the corruption scheme while she was still employed with the U.S. Navy. She resigned in 2015 after 25 years in service with the U.S. government. Part of her job with the U.S. Navy entailed drafting, negotiating and evaluating contract bids. Most of the jobs she handled included managing contracts and the general affairs of U.S ships in port, which ran into millions of dollars.
Parts of the rewards she obtained for selling the secret U.S. Navy info to Francis included S$100,000 in cash to pay for a big condominium, including a Prudential policy. Gursharan also enjoyed stays worth over S$30,000 in Ritz-Carlton luxury hotels in Bali and Dubai, and the Shangri-La hotel in Jakarta.
Gursharan is not the only person facing prison time for the widespread U.S. Navy scandal. Francis has also been arrested in the U.S. for defrauding the U.S. Navy of over S$48 million or U.S.$35 million. He could be sentenced to a maximum 25 years when investigations conclude. Several top U.S. Navy officials have equally been arrested, with 12 of them pleading guilty to the fraud. Among these is Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, who was sentenced to an 18 months jail term.
Gursharan Got Away East, Analysts Say
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Board (C.P.I.B.) in Singapore stated that Gursharan sold private U.S. Navy data which enabled Francis’ company, G.D.M.A., to win 11 of the 14 contracts they bid on, generating about U.S.$48 million in the process. C.P.I.B. investigations showed that Gursharan provided G.D.M.A. with pricing strategies as well as G.D.M.A. competitors’ price information and questions the contract review board asked the competitors. G.D.M.A. was able to use the information to win U.S. Navy contracts.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan ruled that Gursharan had engaged in “flagrant abuse of trust and authority,” and took extensive premeditated steps to avoid detection between 2006 and 2013 when she committed the offenses. She was found guilty on three charges of corruption and one charge of benefitting from financial criminality. The judge ordered that Gursharan forfeit the S$130,278 she benefitted from the criminal deals to Singapore’s C.P.I.B.
Analysts say Gursharan got away light. They say she ought to have been sentenced to five years in prison and penalized up to S$100,000 for the corruption charges. And for acquiring, possessing, using, concealing or transferring benefits of criminal conduct, she could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to S$500,000, according to Channel News Asia.