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Source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/22881/film-festival-inquiry-may-zoom-in-on-tax-dodging

Bangkok Post : Film festival inquiry may zoom in on tax dodging

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Film festival inquiry may zoom in on tax dodging

Writer: KING-OUA LAOHONG
Published: 29/08/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

The National Anti-Corruption Commission may add tax evasion to the issues it is probing in the Bangkok International Film Festival scandal.

NACC commissioner Vicha Mahakhun said the commission would consider looking into tax evasion as well as it digs into the alleged 63-million-baht bribe paid by an American couple to clinch the contract from the Tourism Authority of Thailand to organise the film festival in 2004-2006.

Mr Vicha made his comments after a US court started the trial of Gerald and Patricia Green on Thursday.

The couple have been accused of paying about 63 million baht in the form of commission fees to former TAT governor Juthamas Siriwan in order to win the contract to organise the film festival from 2004 to 2006. The money had been transferred into bank accounts belonging to Mrs Juthamas' daughter.

A source, however, said it must be established if the commission was taxable or if any tax had been evaded.

Mr Vicha said the US court earlier invited him to testify as witness in the couple's trial. The US had found that a manager of the American couple had set up a company to handle the money transfers to the bank account of the "daughter of a certain senior TAT official".

However, he decided not to testify to the court after US prosecutors informed him they were sure that Thailand has a law through which tax evasion charges could be pursued in connection with the bribery case.

Mrs Juthamas stepped down as deputy leader of the Puea Pandin Party in December 2007 after being implicated in the scandal. She has denied all the allegations against her.Meanwhile, Uthit Khaothian, deputy secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, said the NACC had to be prepared to deal with policy corruption involving politicians and businessmen, both local and international.

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