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The Department of Justice has agreed to stall attempts to extradite a former government official in Thailand and her daughter while they argue for dismissal of criminal charges tied to a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case against a Hollywood film producer and his wife.

Juthamas Siriwan, a former senior official with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, a government agency, and her daughter, Jittisopa Siriwan, were charged in 2009 with violating the Money Laundering Control Act and Thailand’s bribery laws.

The indictment alleged that Gerald Green, whose credits include Warner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn, and his wife, Patricia Green, paid $1.8 million to receive nearly $14 million from 2002 through 2007 from the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the related Thailand Privilege Card Co., including a lucrative contract to manage the Bangkok International Film Festival. The Greens ran the festival from 2004 through 2006.

In a July 28 tentative order, U.S. District Judge George Wu granted the Siriwans, citizens of Thailand, the right to file their motion to dismiss from their own country. On Aug. 1, federal prosecutors agreed to forgo extradition proceedings until after the motion to dismiss is decided. They suggested an Aug. 19 deadline to file the motion, with a hearing scheduled on Oct. 13.

Jonathan Lopez, a senior trial attorney in the fraud section of the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington and lead prosecutor in the case, referred a request for comment to Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney. Sweeney declined to comment.

David Fink, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Kelley Drye & Warren, who represents the Siriwans, did not return a call for comment.

Juthamas Siriwan was a senior official of the Thai tourism authority until 2006. Her daughter was an employee of Thailand Privilege. According to the indictment, the bribes were sent to bank accounts held in the name of Jittisopa Siriwan or an unnamed friend.

In 2009, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted the Greens under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The case was the first involving FCPA charges against an individual in the entertainment business. Each was sentenced to six months in prison plus six months’ home confinement.

Gerald Green, 79, was released from prison on May 26. His wife was released on May 27.

Soon afterward, the Siriwans filed documents asking to make a special appearance to argue for dismissal of the charges against them. They also asked that Wu, who oversaw the Green trial in Los Angeles, stay the federal government’s extradition proceedings until after their motion to dismiss is resolved.

Although they have not yet filed their dismissal motion, the Siriwans have indicated in court papers that they plan to challenge the government’s use of the money-laundering law to charge them as "foreign officials," which they argued isn’t allowed under the FCPA. The issue is a matter of first impression, Fink wrote in court papers.

The Siriwans also are in the process of being charged in Thailand, he wrote.

"In short, the Siriwans should not be extradited from Thailand, where they are actively engaged in defending themselves against a similar set of charges which carry very severe penalties, before having the opportunity to test whether this unique case presents a proper application of United States criminal laws that is consistent with the integrity of the U.S. judicial system," Fink wrote.

The Siriwans are in "imminent danger of arrest and lengthy incarceration in Thailand" if extradition proceedings continue, he wrote.

Federal prosecutors responded that the request was premature, because the Thai government has yet to respond to its extradition request.

"It appears that attempting to challenge the sufficiency of an indictment while remaining in the safety of one’s home country is becoming a new trend," wrote Lopez. He cited an April 4 ruling by U.S. District Judge James Selna in another FCPA case. Selna denied a motion by a defendant, South Korean citizen Han Yong Kim, to make a special appearance to argue for dismissal of the charges. The government has been seeking to extradite him.

Lopez also challenged Fink’s argument that the charges present novel issues. "The prohibition against charging foreign officials with FCPA offenses does not give foreign officials a free pass to commit other, entirely separate, crimes," he wrote.

In his tentative order, Wu cited the Thai investigation, as well as the fact that the Siriwans did not flee to Thailand to escape charges in U.S. courts, as reasons to permit them to move to dismiss the government’s case. "Thus, there is clearly good reason for Defendants to remain in Thailand at this time," Wu wrote.

Contact Amanda Bronstad at [email protected].

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