Lengthy Sentences Against Former TAT Officials on Corruption Charges Upheld on appeal to the Thai Supreme Court
The Bangkok Post is reporting that the convictions of the former Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Ms. Juthamas Siriwan, and her daughter, Jittisopa Siriwan, have been held up on appeal to the Thai Supreme Court. This presumably brings an end to the long saga of the Bangkok Film festival corruption case.
On 11 September 2009, two Americans, Gerald and Patricia Green were convicted after trial in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, money laundering and related charges for bribes paid to win contract from TAT. The U.S. government sought “life in prison” against Gerald Green, but after several delays, on 12 August 2010, “the Greens [were sentenced] to six months in prison, followed by six months of home confinement and two and a half years of probation.” Gerald Green is believed to have received a light sentence because he was suffering from severe health problems relating to emphysema. Gerald Green died on 24 July 2015 of complications from emphysema.
Earlier, on 28 January 2009, the U.S. government indicted, under seal, Juthamas Siriwan and her daughter on various charges, including conspiracy to money launder, wire fraud, etc. They were not indicted for violating the FCPA because the FCPA “does not criminalize the receipt of a bribe by a foreign official”. But U.S. authorities employed various other legal theories and charges, such as money laundering, wire fraud, etc., to pursue foreign officials that allegedly received a bribe in an FCPA case. In January of 2010 the indictment against Juthamas and Jittisopa was unsealed.
Juthamas and Jittisopa challenged the indictment in the U.S. arguing, among other things that this was really just an illegitimate attempt to do an “end run” around the rule barring FCPA prosecutions of foreign officials for receipt of a bribe and that Thailand had made an “an expression of exclusive jurisdiction regarding extraterritorial crimes of [its] public officials relating to official malfeasance.” In other words, they argued that the U.S. courts could not charge them because Thailand exercises exclusive over official malfeasance by its officials. The U.S. Department of Justice, of course, disputed these claims.
On 4 December 2014, after protracted (and presumably expensive) motions and counter-motions in the U.S., the U.S. agreed to a stay of the proceedings after receiving a report that a joint panel of the NACC and the Office of the Thai Attorney General agreed to indict Juthamas and Jittisopa in the film festival bribery case. They were, in fact, indicted and convicted in Thailand on corruption charges. Juthamas, 73, was sentenced to 50 years in prison, and her daughter Jittisopa, 46, was sentenced to a term of 40 years in prison, in May of last year. According to the Bangkok Post, those sentences have now been upheld by the Thai Supreme Court.