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A Los Angeles filmmaking couple has been convicted of bribing Thai officials so they could run the Bangkok International Film Festival and land other projects.
Gerald and Patricia Green each could receive up to life in prison after a federal jury on Friday convicted them of conspiracy and money laundering. They are scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 17.
Prosecutors said the Greens created shell companies to pay off Juthamas Siriwan, the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The couple then transferred money into bank accounts of Juthamas’ daughter and a friend so they would be awarded business contracts.
Juthamas has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged in Thailand.
Prosecutors believe the Greens paid Juthamas about $1.8 million to help secure the Bangkok film festival and tourism-related deals between 2002 and 2007. The payments, some of which were made in cash to Juthamas directly, were often disguised as sales commissions, ranging between 10% and 20%.
The Greens inflated their budgets so Juthamas could be paid off, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys for the couple denied the payments were bribes and questioned the prosecution’s theory that the Greens made a windfall from their work in Thailand.
“We are very disappointed with the verdict and will appeal it,” said Marilyn Bednarski, an attorney representing Patricia Green. “The Greens did not bribe anyone. They are good people whose companies have given a lot of people work and whose companies invested millions of dollars into developing business in Thailand.”
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. Gerald Green’s attorney Jerome Mooney said he believes prosecutors wanted to send a message to the entertainment industry.
“There is an appearance to fire a shot over the bow of Hollywood,” Mooney said. “We wish that shot wouldn’t have landed in our client’s boat.”
They helped transform the festival into a rising star on the international circuit for screening new films, attracting the likes of Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irons and director Oliver Stone to Thailand.
Juthamas, who is no longer Thailand’s tourism governor, ran for a parliamentary seat in 2007 but pulled out of the race after the allegations surfaced.
Gerald Green’s career in Hollywood spans more than 30 years. The 77-year-old paired with Stone on “Salvador,” which was nominated for two Academy Awards, and served as executive producer on the Christian Bale-led “Rescue Dawn” in 2006. At trial he wore a portable oxygen tank because he suffers from emphysema, Mooney said.
Patricia Green, 54, produced “Diamonds,” a comedy starring Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, with her husband.
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