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Trial opens in federal bribery case against producers

August 10, 2009 | 12:49 pm

The trial of two Hollywood producers accused of trying to bribe their way into running the Bangkok International Film Festival has begun at Federal District Court in Los Angeles.

According to a story in the Financial Times (registration required), producer Gerald Green and his wife, Patricia, are accused of violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the Bangkok International Film Festival.

The indictment, which was filed in December 2007, alleges that Green, who was an executive producer on 2006's "Rescue Dawn," and his wife conspired to pay a Thai government official more than $1.7 million to obtain a contract to run the festival. The indictment says running the festival would be worth more than $10 million.

Extra spending to keep local officials happy isn't that unusual when Hollywood does business overseas. A 2007 Times analysis of the budget of the film "Sahara," for instance, revealed that $237,386 was spent on "courtesy payments," "gratuities" and "local bribes."

The Financial Times story notes that the case against the Greens is the first use of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act against the entertainment industry, but it may not be the last, since federal prosecutors often investigate industries aggressively once they find one example of alleged lawbreaking.

According to a document filed July 30, the government expects its presentation of evidence to take 13 days, after which the defense will make its argument.

-- Ben Fritz