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

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Smartmatic is being investigated by the US Department of Justice for its alleged payoffs in the Phillapeans to get official contracts and oversee the 2016 presidential election there- through an intermediary.

The Biden-led agency is investigating whether the voting machine company Smartmatic engaged in corrupt business practices in the Philippines. Yes. That is a foreign country- the agency continues to ignore calls from US activists and concerned voters to do the same in the United States.

“DOJ Investigates Electronic Voting Company Smartmatic for Allegedly Bribing Election Officials in the Philippines,” Shane Trejo reported for Big League Politics on Monday, 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 quoted from Semafor media report: “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,” according to Ben Smith and Shelby Talcott who reported on their Medium account, adding:

“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.”

A lawyer for Smartmatic, J. Erik Connolly, confirmed the inquiry and stressed the limits of its scope.

“Companies working in the election industry always face scrutiny and inquiries,” he said in an email. “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.”

From 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 This Is and Isn’t About

The current investigation centers on allegations that emerged after the 2016 election in the Philippines, in which Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. — who is now the country’s president — claimed he had been robbed of the vice presidency. He blamed both Smartmatic and the country’s Commission on Elections (known as Comelec) for the outcome. Last year, the country’s Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the claims of a stolen election.

But the allegations of financial malfeasance proved more damaging. In 2017, the estranged wife of the chairman of the country’s election commission claimed that the chairman, Andrew Bautista, had received a “commission” from a law firm that also served as Smartmatic’s legal counsel, CNN Philippines reported.

In a telephone interview, Bautista told Semafor that he did receive a “referral fee” from the law firm representing Smartmatic, but that it was before he joined the government and had “nothing to do with Smartmatic.”

Bautista noted that Smartmatic had also been awarded a contract for the 2010 and 2013 elections. “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 resigned in October 2017, and reportedly relocated to the United States amid an investigation of his finances.

Bautista, who said he had left the Philippines but declined to give his location, citing safety concerns, declined to say whether he’d been contacted by U.S. investigators.

“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.

Notably Big League Politics had reported in 2020:

Big League Politics reported on how electronic voting firms like Smartmatic and Dominion were part of a federal power grab to oversee national elections before the 2020 presidential vote:

It has been revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) literally partnered with executives from Dominion and Smartmatic to form the Elections Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) to “protect” electoral infrastructure prior to the dubious vote.

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