Former TAT Gov & Daughter Receive Lengthy Sentences – Thai Film Festival Corruption Case

The former Governor-General of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Ms. Juthimas Siriwan, and her daughter, Jittisopha Siriwan, were given lengthy prison sentences on 29 March 2017 in connection with kickbacks paid to procure contracts from Bangkok Film Festival from 2003 to 2006.  The Thai English language newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation, report that Juthamas Siriwan and her daughter, Jittisopha Siriwan, were found guilty on corruption charges by Thailand’s new Anti-Corruption Court, and that Juthamas Siriwan received a 50-year sentence while her daughter received a 44-year sentence.

Similar stories appeared in the international press, such as the the Washington Post, Bloomberg and the South China Morning Post,  The Bangkok Post reports that:  “[a] total of 62 million baht in assets will also be confiscated from the mother-daughter pair.”

The Bangkok also reports that bail was not granted by the trial court while an appeal is sought, stating:

After the sentencing a request for bail was, of course, made pending appeals that could take a very very long time, a decade is not unheard of, and then flight from the country if it looks like the two are really heading for a stay in prison.

But this time the chief justice declared that the mother-daughter pair were a flight risk because of the heavy penalties imposed.

This case has a long history involving U.S. and Thai authorities and courts. More than seven years ago, on 11 September 2009, 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 from “complications arising from emphysema.”

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 have 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 Juthimas and Jittisopa was unsealed.

Juthimas 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 purportedly 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., which are summarized here, 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.