Who is 'Fat Leonard'?

The decorations for Francis' 2010 Christmas party, thrown annually at his Nassim Road bungalow (left), were reported to have cost $100,000.
The decorations for Francis' 2010 Christmas party, thrown annually at his Nassim Road bungalow (above), were reported to have cost $100,000.ST FILE PHOTO
The decorations for Francis' 2010 Christmas party, thrown annually at his Nassim Road bungalow (left), were reported to have cost $100,000.
The decorations for Francis' 2010 Christmas party, thrown annually at his Nassim Road bungalow, were reported to have cost $100,000.

Singapore-based Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis was born in Penang in 1965 and is known by those in US Navy circles as "Fat Leonard", "Lion King" and "Big Bro" because of his size.

Standing at more than 1.8m tall and weighing 158kg, he is reputed to be a devoted father of five and held annual Christmas parties at his bungalow in Nassim Road, where the decorations rivalled those of nearby Orchard Road. It was reported in 2010 that the budget for the decorations was $100,000.

The 28,000 sq ft bungalow is believed to be rented, and the amount is estimated to be at least $30,000 a month.

Francis is said to also own a three- storey house with a swimming pool in an affluent estate in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

The Star reported that Francis has had run-ins with the law before.

According to the paper, Francis came into contact with undesirable characters after he opened a pub. That venture proved to be unsuccessful and left him in debt.

In 1989, when he was just 21, he was sentenced to three years in jail and six strokes of the cane by the High Court in Penang on two counts of firearms possession after he was found with two revolvers and a bullet-proof vest.

Francis' mother claimed in mitigation of his crimes at the court trial that she neglected him and left him with the task of keeping an eye on his philandering father after she left home with his siblings.

Once he was out of prison, Francis took over the family business - Glenn Marine Enterprise - from his father. He later renamed the company to Glenn Defence Marine Asia and led it to prosperity.

The firm operates ports throughout the Pacific and provides husbanding services to ships at dock.

US Federal agents arrested Francis on Sept 16, 2013, after asking navy officials to call him to California under the guise of a face-to-face business meeting.

He has since pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Who is 'fat Leonard'?'. Print Edition | Subscribe