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The U.S. Department of Justice bolstered its defense of charges against two government officials in Thailand linked to a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case against a Hollywood producer and his wife, insisting in court documents that the defendants, not federal prosecutors, have created a “novel interpretation” of the money laundering statute. In documents filed on Nov. 7, prosecutor Jonathan Lopez, deputy chief in the department’s asset forfeiture and money-laundering section in Washington, refuted claims that the money-laundering charges against Juthamas Siriwan and her daughter, Jittisopa Siriwan, represented an attempt by the government to get around a ban on prosecuting foreign officials for taking bribes under the FCPA. The elder Siriwan, a former senior official with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and her daughter were charged in 2009 with violating the U.S. Money Laundering Control Act and Thailand’s bribery laws. The Siriwans, in moving to dismiss the charges, have argued that federal prosecutors have failed to allege a crime separate from the underlying bribe. Lopez, in response, called that argument “irrelevant,” since neither has been charged with FCPA violations. “Second, defendants’ basic premise that the government is trying to charge as money laundering that which it cannot charge substantively (in this case, the FCPA) is an attempt to create an issue where none exists,” he wrote. A hearing on the motion to dismiss was set for Nov. 21. A lawyer for the Siriwans, David Fink, a partner at Kelley Drye & Warren in Los Angeles, did not respond to a request for comment. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment. The government charged the Siriwans after obtaining convictions against Gerald Green, a producer in Beverly Hills, Calif., whose film credits include Warner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn, and his wife, Patricia Green. They were charged with paying $1.8 million in bribes to Thai officials in order to receive nearly $14 million in contracts from 2002 through 2007 from the tourism authority and the related Thailand Privilege Card Co., including the rights to manage the Bangkok International Film Festival. The case was the first involving FCPA charges against an individual in the entertainment business. The Greens, who are serving six months in home confinement, were released from federal prison in May after serving sentences of six months. Juthamas Siriwan was a senior official of the authority until 2006 and her daughter was an employee of Thailand Privilege. The government has also alleged that Jittisopa Siriwan maintained bank accounts in her name to transfer the bribes. The Siriwans have called the government’s indictment a “novel and untested money laundering theory” against a foreign official tied to an FCPA case. In a Sept. 9 response, Lopez said such arguments ignored case law and reiterated that the Siriwans had been charged with the separate crime of promoting the Greens’ FCPA violations. After the Siriwans filed a reply on Oct. 4, Lopez asked U.S. District Judge George Wu for permission to file additional papers addressing defendants’ claims. In the new papers, Lopez defended U.S. jurisdiction in the case, maintaining that defendants were misconstruing the money-laundering statute in arguing that the case belonged in Thailand. “Defendants’ novel interpretation does not stand up to common-sense scrutiny,” he wrote. Contact Amanda Bronstad at [email protected].

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