Ex-TAT Official in Film Festival Case Challenging U.S. Indictment

Ex-TAT Governor, Ms. Juthamas Siriwan, and her daughter, Jittisopa Siriwan, have filed a motion through their U.S. lawyers to dismiss the U.S. indictment against them. In recent years, as part of an overall effort to enforce anti-corruption laws, U. S. authorities have filed charges against purported foreign recipients of bribes in U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases with allegedly violating other U.S. laws, such as U.S. anti-money laundering laws. The Siriwans state in their motion to the U.S. District Court:

This is the first judicial challenge to a novel prosecutorial approach the Government recently developed to charge foreign officials allegedly involved in corruption.  That approach is aimed at overcoming a fundamental FCPA limitation.  The FCPA does not criminalize a foreign public official’s receipt of a bribe.

This also helps explain some of the confusion about whether the U.S. is trying to extradite the Siriwans. The 24 August 2011 edition of the Bangkok Post says: “The head of international affairs at the Office of the Attorney-General, Sirisak Tiyaphan, said the US had yet to request Ms Juthamas’s extradition,..”; This may be strictly true, but the situation is a bit more complicated. In response to the Siriwans’s efforts to challenge any extradition proceedings, the U.S. agreed on 1 August 2011, in a joint filing with the Siriwans, that it would “not request extradition or initiate extradition proceedings until the Court hears and decides Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.”

The U.S. filed its opposition to the defendants’ motion on 9 September 2011. The defendants’ application to extend their deadline to file reply papers until 4 October 2011 was granted; and the defendants asked for and were granted leave to file excess pages in their reply brief.

Reflecting the larger issues at stake here for all FCPA cases, this is a hotly contested and heavily briefed motion. No matter which side prevails, this could easily be subject to appellate challenge, and if so, the dispute over the indictment of the Siriwans could establish important precedent in the U.S. over the use of wire fraud and money laundering charges in FCPA cases.

That motion is still scheduled for hearing on 30 October 2011, and we will provide updates on any additional filings before that hearing date.