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Indicting a “Foreign Official” – Part II

Yes, there is FCPA news other than the Africa Sting case.

In connection with the Green case (see here [1]), an indictment was recently unsealed (see here [2]) against Juthamas Siriwan and Jittisopa Siriwan.

According to the indictment, Juthamas “was the senior government officer of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)” and she is the “foreign official” the Greens were convicted of bribing. Jittisopa is the daughter of the “foreign official” and also alleged to be an “employee of Thailand Privilege Card Co. Ltd.” an entity controlled by TAT and an alleged “instrumentality of the Thai government.”

Incidentally, the Green’s sentencing (which was to occur today) in which the government is essentially seeking a life sentence for Mr. Green based on FCPA, as well as other convictions and factors, was postponed until March. For more on that issue, see here [3].

As noted in the first Indicting a “Foreign Official” post a month ago (see here [4]), the FCPA only covers “bribe-payers, not “bribe-takers.”

Thus, like the prior indictment against the alleged Haiti “foreign officials” (Robert Antoine and Jean Rene Duperval), the charges against the Siriwans are not FCPA charges, but largely conspiracy to money launder and “transporting funds to promote unlawful activity.”

However, unlike Antoine and Duperval who are alleged to have U.S. bank accounts which were used in the connection with the bribery scheme, the Siriwan’s bank accounts were located in Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the Isle of Jersey.

There are however facts alleged in the Siriwan indictment which suggest a U.S. nexus. The indictment alleges that the Greens did on occasion “arrange for cash payments to be made directly to Juthamas Siriwan, including during her trips to Los Angeles, California.” The indictment further alleges that Juthamas Siriwan “sent and caused to be sent to co-conspirator Gerald Green a facsimile on TAT letterhead providing wire instructions for transferring funds.” Finally, the indictment also alleges that “co-conspirator Patricia Green received instructions to divide ‘commission’ payments owed to defendant Juthamas Siriwan into wire transfer to three separate accounts.” Although the indictment does not say, it is presumed that the facsimile and instructions were sent to the U.S.

The “transporting funds to promote unlawful activity” charges (two – eight) of the indictment rely on 18 USC 1956(a)(2)(A) which reads in pertinent part:

“(2) Whoever transports, transmits, or transfers, or attempts to transport, transmit, or transfer a monetary instrument or funds from a place in the United States to or through a place outside the United States or to a place in the United States from or through a place outside the United States

(A) with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity

shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation, transmission, or transfer, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.”

The specified unlawful activity alleged in the indictment is “namely, bribery of a foreign official” in violation of the FCPA; “bribery of a public official of Thailand” in violation of Thai law; and the “misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of a public official” in violation of Thai law.

In November 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder stated (see here [5]) that the U.S. was committed to recovering funds obtained by “foreign officials” through bribery and the indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $1.7 million in the foreign bank accounts.