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Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 12:18 GMT


Fox faces investigation over Beach row

The island of Phi Phi: Fox has now finished filming at Maya Bay

US authorities have promised to investigate bribery allegations against the film studio 20th Century Fox - as filming ends on the disputed site of controversial movie The Beach.

Environmental campaigners have complained production of the film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, destroyed a pristine beach at Maya Bay, on Phi Phi island, 340 miles Southwest of Bangkok..

It is claimed Fox offered bribes to forestry officials to gain access to the beach, which is a national park. Environmentalists say production was only approved after the studio offered a $111,000 special payment.

They accuse Fox of breaking the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

'Blanket prohibition of bribes'

[ image: Leonardo DiCaprio: Reported to be earning £12m to star in The Beach]
Leonardo DiCaprio: Reported to be earning £12m to star in The Beach
An embassy spokesman said: "I'm sure these allegations will be passed on to the appropriate authorities. This Act is a blanket prohibition against paying bribes. Companies have been fined and there have been prison terms."

Fox denies the allegations - and is vowing to return the beach to its natural state. Around 100 mature coconut palms were planted on the beach and opponents say dunes were landscaped, ground cover was removed and coral was damaged.

"We are just cleaning up and removing our equipment," said Beach spokeswoman Sarah Clark.

"As far as we are concerned we have an agreement that we will remove everything and put it back to the way it was. We're hoping to proceed soon."

Filming continues elsewhere

Reports in Thailand on Monday said the forestry department had been surveying locals and tourists over whether they preferred the island in its natural state or with the palm trees.

Filming of The Beach will continue in other parts of Thailand until April.

Based on a novel by British author Alex Garland, it follows a young traveller - played by DiCaprio - who stumbles across a mysterious island inhabited by a group of backpackers.

DiCaprio, who is said to be earning £12m to play the role, recently said he would not tolerate any damage to Maya Bay.

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