27 November 2009

Smartmatic does Mexico

In spite of having won contracts worth millions of dollars in different countries, Smartmatic seems incapable of shaking allegations that mar its reputation. And the reason is quite simple: the more business it gains, the greater the lack of transparency. Take for instance what has recently happened in Mexico, where the government is planning to gather biometric data to produce ID cards. A tender was organised by the Mexican government and the following companies submitted bids: LATIN ID S.A. de C.V., MAINBIT S.A. de C.V.; SOLTIC S.A. de C.V.; and, the grand sounding, Smartmatic International Holding, B.V.

Smartmatic won the tender to provide such technology, despite having submitted the highest bid. Smartmatic mislead Mexican authorities, by presenting itself as a Dutch company. I happen to have dug the records of Smartmatic in the Netherlands some years ago, their activities are described as "to purchase, develop and manage property and goods". There's nothing about provision of biometric devices in there. As a matter of fact, Smartmatic has no track record of having been directly contracted to provide such technology anywhere in the world. In Bolivia, a province of Hugo Chavez, Smartmatic managed to get subcontracted by a company from Argentina, another province of Hugo Chavez, called NEC Argentina, to gather biometric data destined for the electoral roll. But even that process has been marred with irregularities. The Bolivian press reports that Smartmatic's initial offering was rejected due to its participation in fraudulent elections in Venezuela.

But Smartmatic irregularities do not end there. Company records show that, just weeks before Smartmatic won its first contract in Venezuela, Antonio Mugica and the late Alfredo Anzola (Smartmatic and Bizta principals), took Bs.300 million ($187,000) from a subsidiary of a Venezuelan government entity called FONCREI. It is this information which would probably have caused the decision by Smartmatic of 'selling' Sequoia Voting Systems to avoid a proper investigation from CFIUS into its ownership structure. To this day, Smartmatic is to present credible evidence of having repurchased the stock acquired by the Venezuelan government.

Then there's is the issue in the Philippines, where, yet again, Smartmatic misrepresented itself in order to win an electoral contract. In addition, it was revealed that Smartmatic technicians remotely accessed servers during a regional election in Mindanao.

So there's a few simple questions that Mexican citizens should be posing to authorities:
  1. Why is a company that has no record in the provision of biometric technology allowed to enter bids in a public tender organised to that effect?
  2. In light of previous question: why have Mexican authorities granted the contract to the highest and least experienced bidder?
  3. Why has Smartmatic misrepresented itself, alleging that is a Dutch company, when is in fact a Venezuelan one with suspect connections to the Chavez regime?
  4. If it is true that Smartmatic is a Dutch corporation, where are the tax returns from operations in that country?

No comments: