Tuesday, November 23, 2010



Former Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas Siriwan has been given until early next month to come forward and defend herself against allegations of taking bribes.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission's (NACC) subcommittee investigating the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival scandal said yesterday it completed compiling evidence on Nov 8 and Ms Juthamas had now been asked to put her case in person.

Methee Krongkaew, the person in charge of the subcommittee, said his panel would forward its findings to the main NACC committee if Ms Juthamas failed to show up to defend herself. The main committee would then decide whether to submit the case to the public prosecutor for indictment.

The former TAT governor has been indicted in the US for her role in the financing scandal. Mr Methee said the evidence his subcommittee had in hand was solid enough to seek her indictment.

"Mrs Juthamas has sent the subcommittee a letter containing her statement and she has contacted us several times after being notified about our investigation," he said.

She has not appeared before the panel in person, he said.

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, although Hollywood producers Gerald and Patricia Green had been found guilty of offences related to the scandal in August.

The couple were sentenced to six months in jail and six months of home detention for their part in paying bribes to secure the rights to run the Bangkok International Film Festival.

The pair were found guilty of money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The US Justice Department said the Greens had paid $1.8 million (almost 60 million baht at the present exchange rate) in bribes to Ms Juthamas in exchange for contracts to run the Bangkok International Film Festival and other TAT projects.

Prosecutors said the Greens had an "orchestrated, sophisticated scheme" involving fake receipts, shell companies and cash payments, and netted $14 million from the contracts.

Ms Juthamas was paid through bank accounts in Britain, Singapore and the Isle of Jersey that were in the name of her daughter, prosecutors have said.

Ms Juthamas and her daughter are under indictment in the US.

Mr Sirisak said he was worried US authorities would file a request for the extradition of Ms Juthamas before the NACC had completed its investigation.

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