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Source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/31421/former-tat-boss-charged-in-us-with-conspiracy

Former TAT boss charged in US with conspiracy

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Former TAT boss charged in US with conspiracy

  • Published: 22/01/2010 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: News

The whereabouts of former Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas Siriwan were unknown last night, after she was indicted in the US for her role in a Thai film-festival financing scandal.

Juthamas: Location unknown

Mrs Juthamas and her daughter, Jittisopa, were charged with conspiracy to launder money and eight other counts in an indictment unsealed in the US on Tuesday. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison.

A source at the Immigration Bureau said there was no record of the former TAT chief leaving the country.

Mrs Juthamas resigned from the Puea Pandin Party in December 2007 shortly before the general election to fight the case. She denied any wrongdoing.

Mrs Juthamas and her daughter were indicted for allegedly accepting bribes from a Los Angeles film-making couple who paid the pair for the right to run a film festival here.

The couple, who were convicted of conspiracy and money laundering in federal court in September, face lengthy prison terms when they are sentenced in the US today.

US investigators said film-makers Gerald and Patricia Green paid Mrs Juthamas about US$1.8 million (almost 60 million baht) to secure the right to stage the Bangkok International Film Festival and tourism-related deals.

Prosecutors say 78-year-old Gerald Green could face more than 30 years in prison, while his 55-year-old wife could receive 19 to 24 years.

Federal prosecutors said the scheme occurred between 2002 and 2007.

The scheme netted the couple, who inflated their budgets so Mrs Juthamas could be paid off, about $13.5 million, authorities said.

The payments, some of which were allegedly made in cash to Mrs Juthamas directly, were often disguised as sales commissions of 10% to 20%.

Prosecutors said Mrs Juthamas and Miss Jittisopa opened bank accounts in Singapore and Britain to receive the corrupt payments.

The Greens are the first entertainment industry figures who have been convicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal statute prohibiting corrupt payments to foreign officials for business purposes.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has assigned commissioner Methee Krongkaew to observe the trial in the US. Mr Methee is the chairman of a subcommittee investigating the alleged bribery scam.

NACC commissioner Vicha Mahakhun yesterday said Mr Methee had left for the US. Earlier, the NACC also sent officials to monitor the trial against the Greens.

The NACC has asked for information on the bribery case from the US court via the Office of the Attorney-General.

About the author

Writer: King-Oua Laohong, Wassayos Ngamkham and AP

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  • Raimund

    Discussion 6 : 22/01/2010 at 01:08 PM6

    Have a look at Hun Sen's Residency, a safe heaven for fugitives.

  • Raimund

    Discussion 5 : 22/01/2010 at 12:44 PM5

    Have a look at Hun Sen's Residency, a safe heaven for fugitives.

  • surely you jest

    Discussion 4 : 22/01/2010 at 12:07 PM4

    Hey Making Waves just to set the record straight k. Jutamas was a product of the Thaksin era. The Thai government (at least 4 of them: Thaksin, Samak, Somchai and now Apisit) have so far failed to bring charges against this woman and her daughter here in Thailand even though there has been a clear indication of the problem for more than 2 years.

  • Making Waves

    Discussion 3 : 22/01/2010 at 08:09 AM3

    It's little wonder that the TAT keeps coming up with hair-brained ("we tried it already and it failed, but as we have a new boss let's try it again"!) schemes to try and lure tourists here. They spend so much time on figuring how to line their pockets that they have no time to really consider how to attract tourists. People like this lady deserve long prison sentences, not just for taking bribes but for dereliction of duty to her country and people who would have benefited by more tourists and the money they spend if she had focused better on her "proper" job!

    Perhaps by focusing on the big-spenders they are trying to lure more people like the Greens here in the hope that they can get them involved in some more scams like this.

    On a side note - TAT attracting big spenders who only stay in high end resorts (which of course are owned or co-owned by the big boys in Bangkok) doesn't benefit the lower or middle class Thais. So that's another poke in the eye of the smaller hotels, restaurants, guesthouses and tour guides from the "elite" in power!!

  • Finally

    Discussion 2 : 22/01/2010 at 07:24 AM2

    Finally the corruption in this beautiful country and people in high positions exploiting their positions are exposed. It is most unfortunate that the only way to takle the level of corruption is from international detection rather than honest internal investigations. Another clear example of power abuse of the influential few and the people around them in regards to the disappearnce of this fugitive. I can only hope that this can change the corrupt ways which in my opinion stagnates an economy that should be flourishing.

  • Mike Barringtor

    Discussion 1 : 22/01/2010 at 07:11 AM1

    For the last two years leading up to this outcome I'm sure she has been pulling all her money out of her accounts and stuffing the cash somewhere and she's now probably hiding out in China where there is no extradition treaty with the U.S.

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