Case concerns Bangkok film festival bribes
Movie exec Gerald Green and his wife Patricia have been charged in Los Angeles with corruption in a federal case concerning the Bangkok Film Festival.
The Greens were arrested Dec. 7; details of the case were unsealed Tuesday. Gerald Green, who produced “Rescue Dawn” this year, was in federal court in L.A. on Wednesday and released on $500,000 bond. Arraignment has been set for Jan. 22.
The U.S. Justice Dept. said in a press release that the complaint alleges the Greens conspired to make $1.7 million in bribery payments to a Thai government official to obtain contracts worth more than $10 million to manage the Bangkok fest and other events between 2003 and 2007.
The Justice Dept. did not name the Thai official in its press release but identifies the ultimate recipient of the bribes as the person who held the posts of president of the Bangkok fest and the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) during that period. Juthamas Siriwan was governor of TAT and headed the fest between 2003 and 2006. She is running for parliament in Sunday’s general election as a representative of the Puea Pandin Party.
An FBI affidavit identifies 80 payments, including 41 that were made to the governor’s daughter, who was not an official of the festival.
The Greens owned and operated Film Festival Management, an L.A.-based business set up in 2003 to bid for the fest management contract. An FBI affidavit says FFM retained the contract until this year, when a government coup occurred and the governor left office.
The complaint also alleges that the Greens attempted to conceal their bribery using different business entities, some with dummy business addresses and phone numbers, and by making “commission” payments to the governor through the foreign bank accounts of intermediaries.
Each charge carries a maximum of five years in prison under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
It is not clear whether the Thai antigraft agency cooperated with the FBI in the Green probe or whether it will bring its own charges against Siriwan.
Siriwan held a press conference Wednesday in Bangkok to face down the accusations.
“I have made an inquiry into the company in L.A., and was informed that the issue of bribery was raised by staff who were fired from the firm, so I believe this is an internal conflict,” she said.
“But if the U.S. agency finds me guilty, I will countersue them, since it’s a case of mudslinging and a groundless accusation.”
Asked whether the scandal will have a negative impact on her political career, Siriwan said, “I don’t think so.”
The TAT has now set up a committee to look into the scandal. The foreign ministry also has been informed of the FBI allegation and said it will coordinate with investigators.
Green’s Viridian Entertainment was, until recently, attached as co-producer of Simon West’s big-budget Nanking massacre pic “Purple Mountain.” But Li Xiangmin, the Chinese producer, told the Xinhua news agency that Viridian had not come up with its agreed $20 million of the $51 million budget, and the Chinese switched to Omega Entertainment instead (Daily Variety, Aug. 3).
(Janet Shprintz contributed to this report.)