Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Monday, April 22, 2024

What’s the price of a secret?

Everyone can be bought, but some people are cheaper than others. Navy Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz is one of those people, apparently.

Saved from the Khmer Rouge killing fields as a child and adopted by an American woman, he returned to Cambodia in 2010 amid fanfare and international acclaim.

Soon after he arrived at his post, though, he fell under the predatory eye of Fat Leonard — Leonard Francis — a Malaysian businessman whose company allegedly cheated the Navy out of millions of dollars with the help of Misiewicz. Francis is well known among the marine and business communities of Asia. His 70,000-square-foot Singapore home — the same size as Shaq’s mansion — is infamously decorated every Christmas with obnoxious ornaments, and “any captain on any ship” that has sailed the Pacific at least knows of him.

According to its website, Fat Leonard’s naval contracting company, the Glenn Marine Group, “holds the distinction as one of the most trusted brands in the provision of maritime support, notably to the navies of the world.” and provides essential services like fuel, food and maintenance to ships traveling in Asia.

Fat Leonard bribed Misiewicz with prostitutes and, in one instance, tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand. Then he used Misiewicz as part of a plan to extort millions of dollars from the Navy every year. He would email Misiewicz, requesting that ships be redirected to ports where the Glenn Marine Group had operations. There, the company would overcharge the Navy for its services, even creating fake tariffs to extort even more money. In Thailand, one of many countries where the group is active, the company was able to swindle $10 million dollars in just one year.

Naturally, the Navy is launching a full investigation. Misiewicz and Francis have been arrested, as well as Francis’ manager of government contracts and a naval investigator accused of advising Misiewicz on how to avoid getting caught; he was also bribed with prostitutes.

There is evidence Francis patronized other Navy personnel, and the full extent of the damage will no doubt be slowly and painfully revealed, starting with a hearing Friday.

The case is as unsettling for the Navy as it is embarrassing; with a handful of Lady Gaga tickets and the help of a few sex workers, a guy called Fat Leonard was able to effectively control the Navy’s ships and where they went in Asia.

“Big bro” Francis held an esteemed Navy commander, “Little bro” Misiewicz, in the palm of his hand. What’s so disturbing about this scandal isn’t so much that a high-ranking naval officer was bribed, though that would be bad enough — it’s the shockingly low price it took to do it that’s so disturbing. Military officials have been corrupted before; usually they’re bought with a lot more than Misiewicz, and by other countries, not eccentric businessmen.

Alec Carver is a UF journalism freshman. His column usually runs on Wednesdays. A version of this column ran on page 7 on 11/8/2013 under the headline "Navy sold out for hookers, tickets"

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.