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Early end to bribery trial

Film festival case said to have enough facts

Published: 10/09/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

The US trial of an American couple accused of paying off a former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for projects including the Bangkok International Film Festival is expected to finish within two weeks after the number of witnesses was reduced.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has recently been informed US judges had ordered prosecutors to reduce the number of state witnesses as they felt evidence already presented to the Los Angeles court was enough, NACC commissioner Methee Krongkaew said yesterday.

Mr Methee is chairman of a subcommittee investigating an alleged bribery scam involving the Bangkok Film Festival Co.

Gerald, 75, and Patricia Green, 52, were arrested by the US Justice Department on Dec 18, 2007, and charged with involvement in an overseas corruption scam from 2002 to 2007.

They were accused of paying more than 60 million baht in bribes to a senior official at the Tourism Authority of Thailand in order to win the contract to organise the Bangkok International Film Festival from 2004 to 2006, along with other contracts totalling more than US$10 million (340 million baht).

Mr Methee said the trial was expected to finish within two weeks with the reduction of witnesses.

The NACC has coordinated closely with US prosecutors. The anti-graft agency would use their evidence to consider whether there was a bribery case to answer involving former TAT governor Juthamas Siriwan, regardless of the Los Angeles court's ruling.

So far no charges have been pressed against Mrs Juthamas. The panel will meet on Sept 16 to start its inquiry.

The Department of Special Investigation has already looked into the case on a request from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. The DSI forwarded the case to the NACC in March last year after it found evidence of misconduct.

The Greens are accused of paying Mrs Juthamas about $1.8 million (61 million baht) to help secure the film festival contract and tourism-related deals.

The alleged payments are said to have been disguised as sales commissions which were transferred to the bank accounts of Mrs Juthamas' daughter and a friend, or paid in cash to Mrs Juthamas directly.

Mrs Juthamas stepped down as deputy leader of the Puea Pandin Party in December 2007. She has denied all allegations.

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