Hearing on Siriwans’ Motion to Dismiss Indictment – Continued with Scheduled Additional Briefing

The motion by Juthamas Siriwan, the former Governor-General of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and her daughter, Jittisopa Siriwan, (the "Siriwans") to dismiss the U.S. indictment against them on money laundering related charges had been set for hearing on 29 November 2012.  A final ruling on the Siriwans' motion to dismiss the U.S. indictment against them has been continued several times in this heavily briefed matter.   And it has just been continued another time: from 29 November 2012 until 21 February 2013.  For background on this matter, click here.

The motion raises many issues, but one issue that appears to concern the court and represents an important policy issue for the U.S. is: "whether a foreign official can be charged with money laundering with the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] as a specified unlawful activity, when the foreign official cannot be charged with a violation of the FCPA or conspiracy to violate the FCPA."  This is an important policy issue because the FCPA does not criminalize a foreign official's receipt of a bribe, and the U.S. has used other charges to proceed against foreign officials where bribe payers have been convicted of violating the FCPA.  In the briefs it filed for the 31 November 2012 hearing, the U.S. government addresses this issue at some length and states: "three money laundering prosecutions have been successfully brought against former foreign officials relating to international bribery schemes where they accepted bribes."

Counsel for the Siriwans responded, arguing that the U.S.'s argument is an "untimely rehash of issues extensively briefed", and instead focuses on the Thai government's response to an extradition request, arguing "the Kingdom of Thailand, through its official channels, is communicating in express terms that Thailand desires to take the lead in any prosecution of the Siriwans and that it is doing so."  (Emphasis added.)  Employing an "interesting" interpretation of Thai law, counsel for the Siriwans argued that "Thailand's expression of sovereign interest decisively tilts the balance…against the prosecution before this [U.S.] court."

The briefing papers contain a translation of the Thai government's response to an extradition request, and the views of a U.S. State Department official on Thailand's position.  In a 14 November 2012 letter, the U.S. State Department says:

We do not view this as a rejection of our request nor an assertion of sole jurisdiction in this matter; instead we expect the Government of Thailand to further consider our request as they pursue their investigation of the Siriwans in relation to several domestic offenses.

A ruling was supposed to be issued on or after the 29 November 2012 hearing, but has now been continued until 21 February 2013.  Something must have caught the court's attention given the extensive briefing in this case to date. Supplemental briefs are to be filed by 21 December 2012, and responses to supplemental briefing by 11 January 2013.  Watch this space for more information on this matter.