Washington: The US Navy said Tuesday it has censured three admirals for their roles in a widening bribery scandal, the highest-ranking officers to be punished in the case so far.
Although a criminal investigation did not result in charges for the three officers, the admirals had failed to uphold the standards of conduct and would receive letters of censure from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, officials said.
The three officers "demonstrated poor judgment and a failure of leadership in prior tours," Mabus said in a statement.
The admirals improperly accepted gifts, two "improperly endorsed a commercial business," and one solicited gifts and services when they were stationed in the Pacific region in 2006-2007, the navy statement said.
Censure letters effectively derail an officer`s career and in this case, the three officers will be allowed to retire, officials said.
The officers reprimanded were Rear Admiral Michael Miller, currently a special assistant to the superintendent of the US Naval Academy; Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, commander of US naval forces in Japan, and Rear Admiral David Pimpo, commander of Naval Supply Systems Command.
All three were punished for their conduct while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
The corruption scandal has shaken the American navy, with several officers pleading guilty and another arrested this month in the case.
The Malaysian contractor at the center of the scandal pleaded guilty to fraud charges last month, admitting to bribing officials with cash, prostitutes, Cuban cigars and Kobe beef.
Known as "Fat Leonard," 50-year-old Leonard Francis of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia confirmed that he presided over a decade-long scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes, prosecutors said.