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Former Military Sealift Command Official Convicted of Bribery

guilty of bribery
Charles Drew was recently serviced in India becoming first US vessel to receive maintenance in India (Indian Defense Ministry photo)

Published Aug 23, 2022 1:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

The former Director of Operations of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command Office in Busan, South Korea is facing up to 25 years in prison after being convicted of receiving bribes and lying to U.S. federal investigators. The conviction handed down by a federal jury in the District of Columbia on August 19, followed previous guilty pleas by the civilian captain of a USMSC cargo ship and the owner of a South Korean company that was seeking contracts to service U.S. naval vessels.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Fernando Xavier Monroy, age 64, engaged in a conspiracy to commit bribery with the owner of DK Marine, a South Korea-based company that provided services to the U.S. Navy, and the former captain of the USNS Charles Drew. Court papers showed that Monroy had been in contact with Sung-yol “David” Kim as early as 2011 although the specific incident did not happen until December 2013. The indictments were handed down until 2019.

The case has often been compared to the larger “Fat Leonard” scandal where another contractor sought to gain business by providing lavish dinners, entertainment, hotel stays, prostitutes, and more to U.S. Navy officials.  A Malaysian businessman also seeking U.S. Navy work, Leonard Francis is believed to have dolled out more than a half million dollars in cash to officers in the U.S. Seventh Fleet. This case is also still in court with numerous guilty pleas and convictions.

Evidence provided at the trial of Monroy contented that he conspired with the captain of the Charles Drew, James Driver, to pass confidential U.S. Navy emails and information to the owner of the South Korean company. Included in the emails were visit schedules for U.S. Navy vessels and logistical details on the planned service work. In exchange, the government charged Monroy with accepting $30,000 in “loans” from Kim as well as trips to the Philippines and Thailand, entertainment, meals, and prostitutes, all paid for by Kim.

The U.S. Navy had contracted with a different company in South Korea to service the Charles Drew during a port call in Chinhae, South Korea that began on December 21, 2013. However, the government contended in the case that Monroy explained to the contractor and captain how the captain could circumvent the contract. When the Drew arrived in South Korea the captain ordered the work to be done by DK Marine.

Captain Driver pled guilty in July 2019 to one charge of conspiracy to commit bribery for providing confidential information to the South Korean ship husbandry company and influencing the Navy to direct business to the firm. Between 2011 and 2014 the captain reportedly passed U.S. Navy information to Kim. In return, Driver allegedly received train tickets, hotel stays, and an iPad at Kim's expense and discussed working for DK Marine when he retired from the ship. 

Kim cooperated with investigators and also pled guilty in 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. He is awaiting sentencing for his role in the scheme.

Monroy was also convicted of lying to federal investigators. The government charged that he had repeatedly lied to special agents of the Defense Criminal Investigation Service and Naval Criminal Service during a voluntary interview in July 2019.

Sentencing for Monroy is scheduled for November 18. The maximum penalty is 25 years in prison.