The trial of the husband-and-wife movie producers accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act opened this week in LA. Gerald Green, 77, and his wife Patricia, 54, have pleaded not guilty to all 22 counts of a second superseding indictment. They’re charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA and with substantive FCPA offenses. Other charges include money laundering and illegally transporting money-laundering proceeds, obstruction, and filing false tax returns. The AP has an account here.
Prosecutors say the Greens paid the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Juthamas Siriwan, more than $1.8 million in bribes in return for contracts to stage the Bangkok Film Festival. In the prosecution’s opening statement, DOJ lawyer Jonathan Lopez told the jury the Greens transferred money into bank accounts of Juthamas’ daughter and a friend. He said the “bribes-for-contracts” scheme netted the Hollywood couple about $13.5 million.
“This case is about greed, it’s about corruption and it’s about deceit,” Lopez told the seven man-five woman jury. The Greens “turned TAT into their own personal piggy bank,” he said.
Juthamas Siriwan denies taking bribes. She hasn’t been charged in Thailand but investigators there say they’ve found evidence against her. U.S. prosecutors contend the Greens bribed her by disguising the payments as sales commissions and inflating their budgets to cover the costs.
The Greens face up to five years in prison for each FCPA charge, up to 10 years for each tax count, and up to 20 years for the money-laundering and obstruction charges.
The AP said,
Marilyn Bednarski, Patricia Green’s lawyer, shot down Lopez’s contention that the couple profited heavily from the contracts. She showed jurors tax returns from 2000 — before the couple ran the film festival — and from 2006, the festival’s most successful year. The difference was only about $100,000, she said.
“In this case, you will be able to follow every penny that went into the Greens’ account,” Bednarski told jurors. “There is no sleight of hand here.”
The Greens were arrested in December 2007 based on the FBI’s affidavit here. Investigators said at least two former insiders gave evidence against the couple. Prosecutors are also trying to subpoena the billing records of the California lawyer who represented several of the Greens’ companies. He’s claiming the bills are protected by attorney-client privilege. A copy of the government’s motion to compel production can be downloaded here.