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Thai Pol Eludes U.S.

Former Thai official Juthamas Siriwan faces eight felony counts in U.S. federal courtThe Thai official charged with laundering bribes she allegedly took from Gerald and Patricia Green is a fugitive from U.S. justice.

Juthamas Siriwan, 63, the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and her daughter, Jittisopa Siriwan, 31, were indicted in January this year. A federal grand jury charged them with eight counts of conspiracy to launder money, transporting funds to promote unlawful activity, and aiding and abetting. The DOJ is also seeking criminal forfeiture against them.

Foreign officials who take bribes can’t be charged under the FCPA.

According to court records, Siriwan and her daughter haven’t appeared in federal court in LA to answer the charges, and neither has appointed a lawyer in the case.

The DOJ requested pretrial detention for them and indicated it would seek an international arrest warrant. Prosecutors haven’t filed any pleadings in the case since January.

Siriwan has denied wrongdoing. She was investigated by Thai authorities but hasn’t been charged with any crimes there.

The U.S. indictment alleges she took $1.8 million in bribes from the Greens, and in return awarded them contracts worth about $13 million to stage the Bangkok film festival. She directed the Greens to transfer money to accounts held by her daughter or a friend, the indictment alleges, at banks in Singapore, the Isle of Jersey, and the U.K.

If convicted on all counts, Siriwan and her daughter each face up to 20 years in prison.

Thailand and the United States have an extradition treaty. In November, alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was extradited from Bangkok to the U.S.

But it’s unlikely the U.S. can pressure Thailand to extradite Sirirwan and her daughter. Both are Thai citizens, and Siriwan was a high-ranking official and powerful politician.

A copy of the indictment in U.S. v. Juthamas Siriwan aka the “Governor, and Jittisopa Siriwan aka “Jib, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Case No.: CR 09 00081) can be downloaded here.

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