15 Aug 2010

Hollywood couple sentenced to prison for Thai bribes

7:32 am on 15 August 2010

A US couple has been sentenced to prison in Los Angeles for bribing a Thai official so they could take control of the Bangkok film festival.

Gerald Green, 78, and his wife Patricia, 58, were sentenced to prison for six months, ordered to serve six months home detention and repay $US250,000.

They paid a Thai tourism boss to secure the annual event.

Patricia Green produced the film Diamonds, (1999) starring Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall.

The BBC reports they are the first figures from the entertainment industry to be convicted under a new US law prohibiting corrupt payments to foreign officials for business purposes.

The Greens, who declined to address the court on the last day of proceedings, denied that their payments, amounting to $US1.8 million, were bribes and questioned they had made substantial profit from their dealings.

They ran the Bangkok Film Festival from 2003-6.

The former head of Thailand's tourism authority, Juthamas Siriwan, has been accused of accepting payments and US prosecutors are considering bringing her to trial.

She could face up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy.

However, the BBC reports she has not been charged in Thailand and denies any malpractice.