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Application for Charges against Bautista, Implicates Smartmatic

CNN reported that the DOJ has filed charges against Juan Andres Donato Bautista—Chairman of the Philippines’s Commission on Election (COMELEC) from around April 2015 to around October 2017—for money laundering as well as implicating Smartmatic for being involved with bribery.

The CNN article makes it sound like it is merely about money laundering whilst Patrick Byrne says it is much more significant in its implications.

The 31-page document—an affidavit by Special Agent Colberd Almeida of Homeland Security Investigations—is an application for the issue of a criminal complaint and arrest warrant charging Bautista with “conspiring to launder monetary instruments and conspiring to engage in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity”.

Indeed, it is about money laundering on the surface. The document mentions 4 Companies, 4 Co-conspirators, 3 Shell Companies and 1 Vendor, amongst other entities. Three “slush funds” are described. Thankfully, there is a flow chart which is reproduced below.

In short, Bautista awarded the Companies with government contracts to supply voting machines in exchange for bribes.

22. In or around the later part of 2015 and into 2016, Company 4 won bids for three contracts worth a total approximate value of one hundred ninety-nine million dollars ($199,000,000) to supply COMELEC with voting machines and related services for the May 2016 elections for President, Vice-President, and other official positions.

Interestingly, it was Bautista’s wife, in around August 2017, who “informed Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents that her husband had large amounts of unexplained wealth”.

37. As described in greater detail below and summarized in the attached flow chart, BAUTISTA, in his capacity as Chairman of COMELEC, received and attempted to receive bribes from Co-conspirators 1, 2, 3, 4, and Vendor A, in exchange for using his position as Chairman of COMELEC to assist Company 2, Company 4, and others to obtain and retain business and improper advantages, including payments from COMELEC, in violation of the FCPA and the Philippine laws against the bribery of a public official. Co-conspirators 1,2,3, and 4 furthered the criminal scheme using personal email accounts and messaging applications to avoid detection, and in particular, Co-conspirators l and 3 used email accounts registered under aliases.

Multiple transactions were attempted. The document generally describes the Co-conspirators’ activities. For example:

58. ln a text conversation the next day, on or about August 16, 2016, Co-conspirator 2 told Co-conspirator 1 that the one-million-dollar loan payment had to be divided into two loan payments with “500” being “lent” by Shell Company X and “500” by Shell Company Y. In summary, Co-conspirator 2 explained that the wire transactions had to be separated so that they fell in different weeks and explained this was because it was a lot of “salsa” to send to the “north.” Based on my training and experience, the context in which the terms were used and my knowledge of the case, I believe that the term “north” refers to the United States and “salsa,” refers to money, and that the Co-conspirators were discussing dividing the payment into two smaller payments to help avoid drawing suspicion from authorities or banks in the United States.

It is reasonable that the so-called white hats “have everything” but how they play it is another question. And whether one should be as optimistic as those like Byrne is another question.

Nevertheless, he does have a point: if money laundering for bribery was carried out to win contracts to supply voting machines, then it is a real possibility that said voting machines can, whether accidentally-on-purpose or otherwise, make a difference in election results.


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