Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Thailand Film Festival
by Mark Beales
19 March 2010
Corruption case: US couple jailed for bribing Thai officials
It sounds like a plot right out of Hollywood.
Enter an ageing American couple, secretly offering huge bribes to the organizer of an international film festival in return for the rights to run the event. The show goes ahead, major stars attend pre-show parties, and all looks well.
But behind the scenes, people are starting to ask questions. Suddenly, a detective enters and arrests the couple. They are hauled off to a courtroom where the elderly man clings to an oxygen mask and gasps for breath as the pair faces years in jail.
Back at the film festival, the mother and daughter pair accused of pocketing the bribes shuffle awkwardly as they wait to hear their fate.
But this isn’t a script from a film set; it’s a real-life cliffhanger. The starring roles are taken by American couple Gerald Green and his wife Patricia. They were found guilty in a US court of false accounting charges last year.
Former Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Juthamas Siriwan and her daughter Jittisopa have now been charged in the US with accepting money from the Greens. They are said to have created bank accounts in the United Kingdom and Singapore to receive Green’s payments.
Last year’s two-and-a-half week trial heard how the Greens worked together with others to convince Juthamas Siriwan to let them run the film festival and other TAT contracts.
Being the head of TAT at the time, Juthamas was in the perfect position to influence who was awarded which contract, the court heard. The scam was cleverly executed, with the Greens being careful to use different business identities with fake addresses and contact details, to try and mask the vast amounts of money being paid.
The Greens attempted to pass off these payments as ‘sales commissions’ which were meant for the TAT governor but were sent to go-betweens. These included Juthamas’ daughter and a friend.
The mother and daughter Thai team has now been charged in the US on one count of conspiracy, seven charges of transporting funds to promote unlawful activity and one count of aiding and abetting. They face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty.
Kickbacks offered to festival organizers
Gerald Green, 78, is a film producer who was so keen to run the Bangkok International Film Festival that he offered about US$1.8 million in kickbacks to Juthamas from 2002 to 2007. In return he got to run the event. Prosecutors claim that the contracts awarded to Green were worth about US$14 million.
In September 2009, the Greens were found guilty of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and also of breaking money laundering laws. Patricia Green, 55, was also found guilty on two counts of lying in a US income tax return.
The Justice Department had been pressing for Green to receive a life sentence. Prosecutors said he had been the ‘ring-leader’ in the scheme and had ‘repeatedly and blatantly perjured himself’ during the trial.
   
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