Voting tech company suing Fox News implicated in bribery scheme: Report


One of the voting technology companies suing Fox News for defamation over its 2020 presidential election coverage has been implicated in a bribery scheme.

Four executives from Smartmatic, which filed suit against Fox News in February of 2021, have reportedly been implicated in a scheme involving a top former Filipino election official.

Court documents reviewed by CNN show that “the Justice Department has filed money laundering charges against former Filipino election administrator Andres Bautista – and that four executives from Smartmatic subsidiaries are implicated as uncharged co-conspirators.”

“The Smartmatic co-conspirators in the Philippines-related criminal case aren’t identified by name in the court filing … which says they allegedly ’caused or attempted’ to funnel $4 million to Bautista ‘in violation of US money laundering laws,’” CNN notes.

Charging documents reportedly say that the four executives used “slush funds” and “fake contracts” to facilitate the bribes and then hid everything using fake email accounts. They also used codewords like “salsa” to refer to “money.”

Bautista has for his part claimed in tweets that he’s innocent:

“But let me be very clear. I did not ask for nor receive any bribe money from Smartmatic or any other entity,” he tweeted on Thursday.

As for Smartmatic, a spokesperson told CNN a similar story.

“Smartmatic spokeswoman Samira Saba said in a statement that the Florida-based company ‘has never won a project through any illegal means’ and stressed that the claims in the Bautista case are ‘not related to Smartmatic election security or integrity,’” according to CNN.

The spokesperson also said that “winning a bid in the Philippines is never solely one individual’s preference or decision” and that the company has “both won and lost bids in the Philippines” over the years.

Speaking of its work in the Philippines, the Filipino news agency Rappler reported on Friday that the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec) doesn’t intend to block Smartmatic from participating in the nation’s 2025 midterm elections despite these bombshell new allegations.

“[It is] premature at this point. Let us wait until the start of the bidding process. At this point, the presumption of innocence stands,” Comelec chair George Garcia reportedly said in a statement.

Rappler notes that Smartmatic has been the country’s “lone supplier” of voting machines since 2010, meaning they have a monopoly on the market there.

The news publication further notes that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security started investigating Bautista after his estranged wife, Patricia, “alerted Philippine authorities about his alleged ill-gotten wealth worth nearly P1 billion ($17.6 million).”

“During the course of its investigation, the DHS found that executives of the poll technology firm allegedly created numerous ‘slush funds’ – a reserve of money used for illegal purposes – to facilitate the transfer of funds to a dummy bank account allegedly owned by Bautista, passing through the US financial system,” according to Rappler.

Dovetailing back to CNN, the U.S. publisher admits in its own report that these new allegations of “corrupt foreign dealings” could be beneficial to Fox News in its defamation case.

The network “could argue that it wasn’t their lies about the 2020 election that caused Smartmatic to lose business, but rather the company’s reputation was tarnished by the allegedly criminal behavior of some of its employees,” according to CNN.

As previously reported, Smartmatic sued Fox News in 2021 alleging that the network had spread a “conspiracy to defame and disparage Smartmatic and its election technology and software.”

It should be noted that the criminal complaint against Bautista doesn’t contain any allegations pertaining to Smartmatic’s actual work in the Philippines. Moreover, the U.S. State Department previously concluded that elections in the Philippines are “generally free and fair.”

Fox News was also sued by the voting technology company Dominion. However, this particular suit has already been settled:


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Vivek Saxena
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