Juthamas: AMLO panel to probe money trail-The Nation

December 23, 2007

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: Can any thinking person still doubt the timing of these arrests was a shameless attempt to influence our elections?]

AMLO panel to probe money trail in TAT governor bribery case

The Nation: December 22, 2007

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is set to form a working panel to probe the money trail of former top officials of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in connection with an American couple arrested in the US on charges of bribery.

At the same time, the Supreme Court has withdrawn the candidacy of Juthamas Siriwan, a former TAT governor, from running in the election under the proportional party list.

This follows Juthamas’s resignation from her membership of the Puea Paendin Party in the wake of the financial scandal involving the Bangkok International Film Festival.

Gerald Green and his wife Patricia have been arrested and accused of violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FBI has charged that the couple paid US$1.38 million (Bt46 million) in kickbacks to a top TAT official in order to win favour in organising the film festival between 2003 and 2006. The payments were made in different instalments to foreign bank accounts held by a daughter of a TAT official.

This bribery case has shattered the reputation of Thailand and TAT. The FBI has provided the US Court with pressing evidence of the transactions allegedly paid out by Patricia Green to the bank accounts of the TAT official’s daughter.

The source said AMLO would probe the money trail belonging to the defendants before forwarding the results to the National Counter Corruption Commission, which will be directly responsible for this case.

“It won’t be too difficult to probe this case because the US has already established clear and complete evidence of transactions through the banks. We only have to expand on this,” said the source.

Police chief Seripisut Temiyavej said he had ordered General Wisanu Prasartthong-osoth, who is responsible for the foreign affairs department, to work with the FBI. This is in response to Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont’s request to the National Police Office that the police work with the FBI to unravel the case.

Seripisut said he was not certain how long the police would be working on this case and it would depend on the cooperation between the parties.

“If they hand out evidence to us in a timely manner, then we can work on the case quickly. If they refuse to send us the evidence, then it might take time,” he said.

Police have not yet formed a team to investigate the bribery case because it would like to take a first-hand look at the evidence first.

“Right now, all we have learned is through news reports. The information is not clear yet,” Seripisut said.

The National Counter Corruption Commission and the Department of Special Investigation had earlier agreed to probe the bribery case involving the film festival.

Juthamas resigned as a member of Puea Paendin on December 20, after which the party passed on the filing to the Election Commission. The commission followed up by appealing to the election unit of the Supreme Court to revoke the candidacy of Juthamas.

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