Indian-origin Singaporean woman accused in biggest US Navy bribe case

Jun 22, 2018, 18:26 IST | PTI

Kaur was based at the US Navy's Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Centre in Singapore

Indian-origin Singaporean woman accused in biggest US Navy bribe case
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A 57-year-old Indian-origin Singaporean woman, accused of being involved in the largest bribery case in the history of the US Navy, may face a jail term of more than three years, a media report said on Friday.

Sharon Rachael Gursharan Kaur, who was a lead contract specialist for the US Navy, was allegedly involved in the USD 35-million 'Fat Leonard' scandal, which resulted in the arrest and conviction of several senior officers of the US Navy, including a rear admiral, The Straits Times reported.

Kaur, was based at the US Navy's Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Centre in Singapore. The court heard on Thursday that she received more than SGD 130,000 in bribes from Leonard Glenn Francis, the Malaysian chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) -- a subsidiary of Singapore-based Glenn Marine Group -- which provides goods and services for American ships in at least a dozen countries in Asia.

Francis, also known to several US Navy personnel as "Fat Leonard", had allegedly paid Kaur bribes between 2006 and 2011 as a reward for giving him information about the US Navy that was not available to the public. She would disclose procurement-sensitive data and price information of his firm's competitors. As a result, he was able to prepare more competitive bids to secure lucrative contracts with the US Navy.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue told the court that the information she leaked was linked to 16 US Navy contracts. GDMA submitted bids for 14 of them and was awarded 11 contracts worth some USD 48 million in total. The prosecution made its submissions to the court and asked for Kaur to be handed over a jail term of at least three years and seven months, the paper said.

Kaur had pleaded guilty to three corruption charges and one count of dealing with the benefits of her criminal activities on June 30 last year. She is now out on bail of SGD 50,000 and is expected to be sentenced on July 6.

Defence counsel Suresh Damodara told District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan that Kaur was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and went through total hysterectomy in late 2016.

Pleading for the imposition of minimal sentences, Damodara argued that incarceration could "exacerbate" Kaur's medical condition and lead to a relapse, which would be life-threatening, the Singapore daily reported.

Francis had pleaded guilty to his offences in the US in January 2015 and remain in custody there. He faces a maximum jail term of 25 years and has since agreed to forfeit USD 35 million in personal assets.

DPP Jiang said more than 10 US Navy officials have since pleaded guilty in the US to their roles in the scandal. They include US Navy commander Bobby Pitts, who was in charge of the Fleet Industrial Supply Command in Singapore, and retired Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau. Both men were sentenced to one-and-a-half years' jail last year.

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