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A closely watched criminal trial begins Tuesday in a Los Angeles federal court involving a pair of Beverly Hills film producers who are accused of bribing an official of the Thai government in order to obtain lucrative contracts, including management of the Bangkok International Film Festival. The case is one of the few to go to trial involving violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, particularly in the entertainment industry, which increasingly has depended upon sales in foreign markets. “There aren’t that many individual prosecutions that go to trial under the FCPA,” said Jonathan Drimmer, a partner at Washington, D.C.’s Steptoe & Johnson and an expert on FCPA crimes. “It’s not uncommon for FCPA cases to be based against medical companies or pharmaceutical companies, or services companies, but this is the first prosecution that I’m aware of against individuals in the entertainment industry.” In a 22-count superseding indictment, federal prosecutors outline a case alleging that Gerald and Patricia Green, whose recent credits include production of the 2006 film “Rescue Dawn,” made corrupt payments to a Thai foreign official totaling $1.8 million between 2002 and 2006 in order to obtain $14 million worth of contracts. Specifically, prosecutors claim that they arranged payments from a group of businesses they owned in Beverly Hills to Juthamas Siriwan, the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which puts on the Bangkok International Film Festival. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which, in addition to FCPA violations, include conspiracy and obstruction of justice. According to the government’s trial memo, the payments were documented in handwritten notes, budget drafts and other internal documents and reflected in bank and accounting records. The duo, prosecutors contend, hid the payments through various businesses, all of which had the same offices and personnel, and created sham invoices and false tax returns. In those returns, Patricia Green, who managed the day-to-day operations of the couple’s businesses, allegedly described those payments as “commissions.” Gerald Green also allegedly altered film budget documents pursuant to a federal search warrant. As part of its case, the government intends to call a cooperating witness, a former employee named Susan Shore, according to the trial memo. Marilyn Bednarski, name partner of Pasadena, Calif.-based Kaye, McLane & Bednarski, who represents Patricia Green, said Shore was the accountant for the Greens for several years. She said that the defense intends to prove that Shore kept legitimate books and records. “The monies they sent to Thailand were for legitimate business purposes and not for the purposes of bribery and corruption,” she said. “And she believed that. She knew that. She didn’t believe she was doing anything wrong in all these years. She was not only the architect of the books and records but the person who so carefully recorded everything.” Bednarski also criticized the government’s tactics in the case, alleging that Shore — acting as an informant — gave prosecutors statements and documents from a 2007 meeting that are confidential under the attorney-client privilege. Bednarski said a hearing on that matter is scheduled for Monday. “The government’s investigation in this case has been so overwhelmingly oppressive,” she said. “Essentially what we’re going to show in trial is that these people worked hard for years on contracts that they legitimately acquired. There’s no evidence that any funds paid to Thailand were paid for the purpose of influencing, getting a contract or keeping a contract.” An attorney for Gerald Green, Jerome Mooney, a partner at Los Angeles-based Weston, Garrou, Walters & Mooney, did not return calls for comment. DOJ spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment.

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