PETALING JAYA – Venezuelan authorities have apprehended the Malaysian fugitive Leonard Glenn Francis, commonly known as “Fat Leonard”, after he disappeared on Sept 4.
According to US news outlet NBCNews.com, Penang-born Francis was captured after Venezuelan authorities nabbed him as he was trying to board a plane bound for another country.
Venezuelan authorities had been made aware that he was on the run by Interpol, United States marshalls told NBC.
Francis, 58, was under house arrest in San Diego, California, and weeks away from sentencing after pleading guilty in 2015 to giving US$35 million bribes to US Navy officials.
He had been on the run since cutting off his ankle bracelet on Sept 4. The United States Marshals’ wanted poster said he weighed 158kg (350 lbs) and is 1.9m (6 ft 2 inches) tall.
Journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope had days ago said through their global journalism and production studio Project Brazen that the fugitive was in Venezuela with his son.
In their weekly newsletter Whale Hunting, the two journalists had said they had “information” on Francis being in Venezuela after he fled the San Diego home arrest.
Francis has a US$40,000 (S$56,000) bounty on his head by the US Marshals Service and is said to have been sighted in the South American country.
Francis is said to have begun his career of corrupting the US military when he was invited to an Independence Day celebration held by the US Embassy in Malaysia where he met naval officers and attaches.
On Sept 6, media reports said he was on the run, three weeks before he was supposed to begin his potentially up to 25-year prison sentence, after he pleaded guilty to being involved in what has been described as the US Navy’s worst corruption scandal.
Prosecutors had said the Navy officers were feted with expensive meals, luxury hotel rooms and entertainment by prostitutes paid for by Francis; accepted bribes to give him classified information, and also abused their navy positions to ensure that ships berthing at ports were serviced by his Singapore-based company, Glenn Defence Marine Asia.
The company allegedly overcharged the United States Navy by more than US$35 million. Ten US federal state and local agencies have been ordered to hunt for him. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK