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Thai Woman Pleads Not Guilty in Massive US Navy Corruption Case



U.S. Navy, Thailand,

A Thai woman and former executive of defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia has plead not guilty in a US federal court in San Diego. Ms Pornpun “Yin” Settaphakorn was extradited from Thailand last week. Ms Pornpun oversaw Glenn Defense Thailand office, she has been charged with participating in a conspiracy to submit fraudulent price quotes, claims and invoices to the U.S. Navy.

The indictment in this case, returned December 23, 2014, alleges that Ms Pornpun, along with co-defendants Neil Peterson and Linda Raja, among others, submitted false claims of more than $5 million to the US Navy.

In addition, according to the indictment, Ms Pornpun worked to perpetuate and cover up the fraud by consistently misrepresenting to the U.S. Navy the cost of providing services to its ships in Asia, even going so far as to submit false price quotes from non-existent companies, on letterhead created from graphics cut and pasted from the Internet.

Conspiracy to commit fraud against U.S. Navy

Ms Pornpun is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and multiple counts of making false claims.

Like Ms Pornpun, co-defendants Peterson and Raja, both of Singapore, worked as chief deputies for foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis to fill the coffers of their company, GDMA, at the expense of the U.S. Navy.

Peterson served as GDMA’s Vice President for Global Operations, and Raja served as the company’s General Manager for Singapore, Australia, and the Pacific Isles. Peterson and Raja were extradited from Singapore in October 2016, and both have since pleaded guilty for their participation in the massive scheme to defraud the U.S Navy.

In 2017, Peterson was sentenced to 70 months in prison, and Raja to 46 months in prison. Both were ordered to pay $34.8 million in restitution. Peterson and Raja have served their sentences and been returned to Singapore.

At today’s hearing, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford, Ms Pornpun was detained pending trial. The next hearing in this matter is April 9, 2021, before U.S. District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino.

“Whoever you are, wherever you are in the world, and however long it takes, justice awaits those who imperil the U.S. Navy,” said Randy S. Grossman, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.

Grossman praised prosecutors Mark Pletcher and Michelle Wasserman and agents from DCIS and NCIS for their extraordinary work on this case.

Years-long scheme against U.S. Navy

“The extradition of Pornpun Settaphakorn from Thailand to the United States is a monumental step in the judicial process to hold Settaphakron accountable for her alleged involvement in the sprawling, years-long scheme to defraud the U.S. Navy and the American taxpayer that was orchestrated by the disgraced Department of Defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia, Ltd. and its chief executive officer Leonard France,” said Bryan D. Denny, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Western Field Office.

“This action is but one example of the comprehensive actions DCIS and its parnters will utilize to pursue justice for the Warfighter.”

“Ms Pornpun’s extradition from Thailand to the United States marks a significant legal victory for the U.S. criminal justice system and the U.S. Navy, as Settaphakorn deserves to be held fully accountable in U.S. federal court for her alleged role in GDMA’s years-long scheme to defraud the Navy,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric Maddox of the NCIS Economic Crimes Field Office. “NCIS and our law enforcement partners remain dedicated to rooting out corruption and fraud that threatens the integrity of the Navy.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman specifically acknowledged the indispensable contributions to this case of the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs; U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand; the U.S. Marshals Service, and the authorities of the Kingdom of Thailand.

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment against Ms Pornpun are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Source: Department of Justice

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