Ex-Thai Tourism Chief Jailed Over Film Fest Kickbacks
Official Juthamas Siriwan and daughter accepted bribes over now-defunct Bangkok International Film Festival.
After investigations that started in 2008 and with a formal charge in 2015, the former head of the Thailand Tourism department Juthamas Siriwan was recently sentenced to 50 years in prison for accepting USD1.8 million in grafts from Gerald Green and Patricia Green, American producers lobbying for rights to host and organise the Bangkok International Film Festival from 2002 to 2007. At one point, the event brought in millions in profits, was looked at as a possible A-list festival after being ranked among the top 15 film festivals in the world.
The court also sentenced Juthamas’ daughter, Jittisopha, to 44 years for hiding the money in overseas bank accounts around Europe, Singapore and the Americas. Before Gerald’s death in 2015, the Greens served time in US jails for breaching the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, making it criminal for American citizens to bribe foreign officials. They had funnelled the bribes to the mother and daughter over a period of five years to secure rights to run the festival. The courts have ordered the money to be seized and confiscated.
Thailand’s transforming political climate over the past few years since the 2014 coup has eked out many scandals and investigations due to the military junta’s vows to root out corruption.