Another US Navy officer suspended over bribery scandal

The US Navy said Thursday it has suspended a captain in connection with a bribery scandal that has already ensnared several other officers on allegations of corruption.

Captain David Haas, 45, was relieved of his duties as deputy commander of Coastal Riverine Group One and "temporarily reassigned" to the staff of another unit, the Expeditionary Training Group, the Navy said in a statement.

"The decision to reassign Haas was made based upon allegations in connection" with a criminal investigation into defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), it said.

The Singapore-based firm is accused by federal authorities of offering prostitutes and payoffs to secure lucrative government contracts to resupply naval ships. Its CEO, Malaysian businessman Leonard Francis, is charged with conspiring to bribe naval and government officials.

Haas was suspended on November 15 but officials provided no other details about his alleged role in the widening scandal, which threatens to turn into one of the worst in the Navy's history.

Haas is the sixth naval officer to be implicated in the case.

Three officers have been charged and two others -- both admirals -- were effectively suspended.

Haas, along with some other officers linked to the case, worked in the US Navy's 7th Fleet, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan and oversees dozens of warships across Asia.

Federal prosecutors allege naval officers divulged confidential ship movements to GDMA's Francis and diverted vessels to ports requested by the businessman.

Francis, dubbed "Fat Leonard" by naval officers who knew him, then allegedly overcharged the US government to supply the ships with food, fuel, water and other items.

One of the officers charged, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, appeared in a San Diego court Wednesday for a bail hearing.

A federal judge kept Sanchez's bail at $100,000 as previously imposed and ordered him to continue wearing a GPS tracking device.

Authorities allege Sanchez accepted the services of prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 in cash in return for favorable treatment of GDMA, including passing on classified information.