Fugitive businessman 'Fat Leonard' arrested in Venezuela

Malaysian at centre of US Navy bribery scandal escaped from house arrest this month

Venezuelan police arrested Malaysian businessman 'Fat Leonard' after he escaped from house arrest in the US. AP Interpol Venezuela / AFP
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Venezuelan police have arrested Malaysian defence contractor "Fat Leonard", who is at the centre of a large US Navy bribery scandal, as he was preparing to leave the country for Russia, Interpol said.

Leonard Glenn Francis was detained at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia on Wednesday under a red notification requested by Washington for crimes and bribery, Venezuela's Interpol said on Instagram. He will be handed over to Venezuelan judicial authorities to begin extradition procedures.

Francis escaped house arrest in the US this month after cutting off his ankle monitor, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Interpol said the Malaysian businessman arrived in Venezuela through Mexico, with a stopover in Cuba. He planned to eventually travel to Russia.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing US Navy officers as part of a wide-ranging fraud scheme. He paid about $500,000 to Navy officials, the plea agreement showed.

As part of the agreement, he agreed to forfeit $35 million in ill-gotten gains.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: September 22, 2022, 3:12 PM