Venezuelan firm to sell off e-voting company

In an era of acrimony between US and Venezuela, and nder investigation for ties between Chavez and its Sequoia e-voting firm, Venezuelan firm opts to sell company off.

Smartmatic Corp., a Venezualan company, has agreed to sell Sequoia Voting Systems, the third-largest e-voting manufacturer in the US, The Washington Post reports. Smartmatic bought the company from a British concern last year and the the company had been the subject of a federal investigation into its ties with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Concerns about the purchase arose this year in the media and in Congress, which prompted a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). ... This time, the concerns focused on whether, through its complex corporate structure or former business arrangements, the company had benefited from relationships with the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a foe of President Bush.

US politicians used the connections to question the validity of Venezuelan elections that re-elected Chavez. Ironic, because these same politicians laugh off the idea that partisans could besmirch American elections using e-voting machines. Sequoia equipment was used in more than a dozen states in November.

"Given the current climate of the United States marketplace with so much public debate over foreign ownership of firms in an area that is viewed as critical U.S. infrastructure -- election technology -- we feel it is in both companies' best interests to move forward as separate entities with separate ownership," Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic chief executive officer, said in a statement.


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