US sailor admits bribery in Singapore-based defence contractor scandal

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A third US sailor pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting cash and luxury goods in exchange for classified Navy information in a bribery scandal involving ships in Asia and the Pacific.

Petty officer Daniel Layug, who was based in Japan at the time and faces up to five years in prison, admitted accepting over US$10,000 (S$12,500) from Singapore-based defence contractor Glenn Defence Marine Asia (GDMA).

In return, the 27-year-old gave them classified ship schedules and sensitive information about an ongoing criminal investigation into their activities.

Layug is the sixth defendant charged, and the third to plead guilty, in the alleged bribery scheme involving GDMA, a long-time provider of port services to US Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Every service member is entrusted with the enormous responsibility of protecting this country at all costs," said Laura Duffy, US Attorney for the Southern District of California.

"Because of greed, Daniel Layug fell woefully short of that high calling, and this guilty plea holds him accountable for a painful betrayal," she added in a statement.

In a plea deal, he admitted to receiving US$1,000 monthly in cash, various electronic gadgets, and luxury hotel stays for himself and others in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

"What are the chances of getting the new iPad 3? Please let me know," Layug emailed to his GDMA contact, to whom he also gave a "bucket list" of gadgets he wanted including "a high end camera, an iPhone5 cellular phone, a Samsung S4 cellular phone, and an iPad Mini."

"The camera is awesome bro! Thanks a lot! Been a while since I had a new gadget!" he wrote after receiving the goods.

Layug pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery. He was allowed to remain free on bond until a sentencing hearing due on September 2.

As well as a jail term, he faces a US$250,000 fine or twice whatever he made from his bribery activities - whichever is the greater.

The scandal is estimated to have cost the US Navy US$20 million in excessive charges and bogus invoices submitted by GDMA for its port services.

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