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NACC set to seize Juthamas’ Bt65m in overseas assets

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Anti-graft agency preparing to collect funds in foreign bank accounts linked to big corruption case in bangkok

THE NATIONAL Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is poised to seize the estimated Bt65 million in overseas assets of Juthamas Siriwan, the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and her daughter, pending a Criminal Court verdict on the controversial case next Wednesday.
Juthamas, who allegedly received Bt65 million in bribes from a US business couple in return for the couple’s rights to hold the lucrative 2007 Bangkok Film Festival, earlier faced an investigation by the NACC for being “unusually rich” after leaving public office.
Based on a money trail provided by the US Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the ill-gotten money was found to have been deposited in several foreign bank accounts in five countries and territories, namely the UK, Ireland, Singapore, Jersey and Switzerland, via California.
Nittiphun Prachuabmoh, an NACC director in charge of overseas affairs, said the anti-graft agency will forward the case to the Office of the Attorney-General for further action on asset seizure.
The case is claimed to be the first of its kind where the NACC is seeking to seize assets overseas from people found guilty of official corruption in Thailand.
This case has progressed with the cooperation of agencies in the US which earlier convicted the American couple, Gerald and Patricia Green, to a six-month jail term plus another six months of house detention and a US$250,000 fine, for paying bribes to foreign officials under the US Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA).
An equivalent total of Bt65 million in bank deposits will be sought by the NACC for asset seizure.
Nittiphun said there had been coordination with US authorities in freezing Juthamas’ overseas bank accounts under a United Nations anti-corruption convention.
The US investigation into this case started in early 2010 when the FBI took legal action against Gerald and Patricia Green for breaking the US law on foreign corrupt practices.
Money was paid to the Thai chief of tourism affairs for the rights to hold the then-popular and lucrative international film event in Bangkok.
Later, the NACC received help from the US Justice Department and FBI, which provided all the legal documents in this case to Thai authorities for further action against the former tourism chief.
The ill-gotten funds were reportedly put under the name of Juthamas’ daughter and later deposited in multiple foreign bank accounts.
The amount of funds in this case is less than a recent Rolls Royce-Thai Airways International bribery case, in which more than Bt1.2-billion worth of bribes were allegedly paid to Thai officials.
The NACC is still in the early stages of building the case against wrongdoers in the Rolls-Royce-THAI case, including former transport and deputy transport ministers, a former THAI chairman and a former THAI president, as well as other senior airline and government officials.
Based on documents from UK and US authorities, there was evidence that Rolls Royce, a UK-based aircraft engine maker, paid multi-billion-baht bribes to Thai officials in return for the contracts to sell engines to the national-flag carrier from the 1990’s to early 2000’s.


Published : March 24, 2017

By : The Nation