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    HomePoliticsDOJ Investigates Electronic Voting Company Smartmatic for Allegedly Bribing Election Officials…

    DOJ Investigates Electronic Voting Company Smartmatic for Allegedly Bribing Election Officials…

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    The US Department of Justice is looking into Smartmatic for allegedly paying bribes in the Philippines to secure contracts and administer the 2016 presidential election there through an intermediary.

    The Biden-led organization is looking into possible instances of bribery in the Philippines by the voting equipment manufacturer Smartmatic. Yes. The agency still refuses to comply with requests from US activists and worried US citizens to behave similarly in the US; that is a foreign country.

    Shane Trejo wrote for Big League Politics on Monday, “DOJ Investigates Electronic Voting Company Smartmatic for Allegedly Bribing Election Officials in the Philippines,” adding:

    “The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting an investigation into the business activities of Smartmatic, an electronic voting company that oversees elections across the globe.”

    Trejo cited a Semafor media article that stated: “The investigation does not concern the 2020 U.S. election and is not looking at whether any votes were changed, according to a company lawyer and two other people familiar with the Justice Department inquiry. But it adds an unexpected turn to one of the highest-stakes legal actions to come out of Donald Trump’s failed effort to stay in power, Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News over the unfounded election conspiracy theories that spread on the network,”  Ben Smith and Shelby Talcott reported on their Medium account.

    “Federal investigators are conducting an intensifying inquiry, which began in 2019 under President Trump, into whether Smartmatic violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to the two sources and a document connected to the case reviewed by Semafor. That law bars U.S. citizens and companies from paying bribes to foreign officials.”

    J. Erik Connolly, a lawyer representing Smartmatic, confirmed the investigation but emphasized its boundaries.

    He wrote in an email, “Companies working in the election industry always face scrutiny and inquiries. Smartmatic has cooperated with the authorities since learning about this inquiry and will continue to do so. It is important to note that it has nothing to do with election security or integrity. We have been informed that it is on business in Asia almost a decade ago by one of our subsidiaries there.”

    According to Smith and Talcott:

    The U.S. federal investigators are focused on how Smartmatic won a contract to administer the Philippines elections in 2016. The subjects of the investigation include a payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which investigators believe could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

    The investigation, which is focused both on specific employees and the company itself, has been underway for at least two years, the sources said. The Department of Justice also searched at least one Smartmatic employee’s house this summer, one person familiar with the investigation said.

    A spokesman for the DOJ’s criminal division, Joshua Stueve, declined to comment on the investigation.

    What It Is and What It Isn’t

    The present investigation is focused on claims made by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the country’s current president, that he was cheated out of the vice presidency following the 2016 election in the Philippines. He attributed the result to both Smartmatic and the nation’s Commission on Elections (also known as Comelec). The nation’s Supreme Court dismissed the allegations of a stolen election last year with a unanimous decision.

    The claims of financial misdeeds, however, turned out to be more destructive. According to CNN Philippines, in 2017, the chairman of the country’s electoral commission, Andrew Bautista, allegedly received a “commission” from a law firm that simultaneously functioned as Smartmatic’s legal counsel.

    In an interview over the phone, Bautista admitted to Semafor that the law firm representing Smartmatic had paid him a “referral fee,” but that this had occurred prior to his joining the government and had “nothing to do with Smartmatic.”

    Bautista mentioned that Smartmatic had also received a contract for the elections in 2010 and 2013. “Any implication that I was ‘bribed’ to secure the contract is untrue because a) Smartmatic had been working with Comelec years before I was appointed; b) Smartmatic was already the chosen provider for the 2016 elections when I joined and c) Smartmatic continued to be Comelec’s technology partner for the 2019 and 2022 elections,” Bautista wrote.

    He abruptly resigned in October 2017 and apparently moved to the United States.

    Invoking safety concerns, Bautista claimed to have fled the Philippines but would not reveal where he was. He also would not confirm whether American investigators had gotten in touch with him.

    More on this story via The Republic Brief:

    “If they did, that would be a confidential proceeding that I would not be able to disclose to you,” he said.

    It’s unclear how closely if at all, the specific public allegations regarding Bautista are connected to the current U.S. investigation of Smartmatic,” Samafor media reported. CONTINUE READING…

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