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CAB secures order to freeze €250k held in name of Thai woman

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THE Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has secured court orders freezing €250,000 held in the name of a Thai national invested with the Dublin branch of an international bank.

It is part of an international investigation into alleged money laundering, the High Court heard.

The CAB sought the orders over monies invested for the benefit of Ms Jittisopa Siriwan, aka Jitisopa Siriwan, (aged 40 years) with an address in Bangkok, Thailand.

In proceedings against Ms Siriwan, CAB says she is the daughter of a former Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) which is responsible for funding contracts to promote tourism and who allegedly took bribes from US based firms which were given lucrative state-funded contracts to run events like the Bangkok International Film Festival.

The CAB, represented by Benedict Ó Floinn Bl, secured orders freezing the funds, on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis, from Mr Justice Raymond Fullam who adjourned the matter to a date in January.

Counsel said following an investigation involving the FBI and Thailand's National Anti Corruption Commission, the CAB are of the belief these funds invested with Dublin based  HSBC Life (Europe) Ltd constitute the proceeds of crime.

Counsel said Jittisopa Siriwan's mother,Juthamas Siriwan, was the Governor of TAT from 2002 to 2006.

TAT receives subsidies of millions of dollars from the Thai government to spend on both the film festival and on other contracts to promote tourism.

Counsel said Juthamas Siriwan had the power to select and approve businesses to provide goods and services to TAT and to approve the value of any contracts entered into by TAT.

Counsel said TAT was involved with a number of Beverly Hills based firms controlled by American businessman Gerald Green and his wife Patricia Green which obtained contracts from TAT, including one to run the film festival.

In proceedings brought by the US Government, the Greens were accused of paying Juthamas Siriwan an estimated US $1.8m in bribe money or "kickbacks" in exchange for lucrative contracts to manage and operate the film festival, counsel said.

Acting on an tip-off regarding the alleged bribery of a Thai tourism official, the US authorities launched an investigation  into companies controlled by the Greens. It revealed TAT and other bodies under Juthamas Siriwan's control transferred $US14m to businesses controlled by the Greens

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Counsel said in 2009 the Greens were found guilty in the US of charges including money laundering.  The US also charged the Siriwan's with money laundering offences relating to their alleged involvement with the Greens.

It is claimed that, as part of their relationship, the Greens made bribe payments to Juthamas Siriwan through various bank accounts in Singapore, Jersey and England held in the names of others including her daughter Jittisopa.

CAB opened an investigation into the funds following a request for assistance from the US Department of Justice and after the FBI investigation revealed monies allegedly paid by entities controlled by the Greens were transferred to accounts in the name of Jittisopa Siriwan held at HSBC Bank in England.

The court heard CAB sought freezing orders in respect of the funds in Ireland because it was anticipated HSBC Life was in the process of moving its entire portfolio from Ireland to Malta.

Counsel said both Siriwans have been investigated by the Thai authorities and it is anticipated charges with be brought against them.

The criminal case against mother and daughter in the United States will remain stayed pending the outcome of the criminal investigation in Thailand.


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