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Thai Official Receives 50-Year Jail Sentence for Bangkok Festival Corruption

Juthamas Siriwan, the Thai official who took bribes from the U.S. organizers of the now-defunct Bangkok International Film Festival, has been sentenced to 50 years in jail for corruption.

Siriwan was found guilty by the National Anti-Corruption Commission on Friday under abnormal wealth charges. Her trial took place today at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

Her daughter Jittisopa was also found guilty and received a 44-year sentence. The pair are also required to repay the $1.81 million (THB62 million) that the court said they had taken in kickbacks from U.S. film makers Gerald Green (“Rescue Dawn”) and his wife Patricia.

Siriwan was governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and financier of the festival. The Greens paid her in order to obtain and retain the festival management contract between 2003 and 2006.

In 2009, the Greens were found guilty in a Los Angeles court of breaching the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for American citizens to bribe foreign officials. In 2010 they were sentenced to six months of home detention and required to pay $250,000 of restitution.

At the Greens trial, the FBI presented large amounts of evidence including photocopies of checks showing that the Greens had paid money to Siriwan and her daughter in accounts in the U.K., Jersey and Singapore. Prosecutors said the Greens attempted to conceal their bribery using different business entities, some with dummy business addresses and phone numbers. The contracts they secured were worth more than $13.5 million.

The high profile nature of the case and the convictions of the Greens in the U.S. made the allegations against Siriwan hard to ignore. But for a long period it was not clear that Thai authorities would take the matter to trial. Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations first began probing Siriwan and the festival in early 2008. She was formally charged by the NACC in November 2015.

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