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Why a British electronic voting firm joined the anti-Maduro crowd

James Tweedie looks at the connections of Smartmatic owner Mark Malloch-Brown

THE Morning Star can reveal the link between the electronic voting firm behind Venezuelan ballot-rigging claims and the putschist opposition.

On Wednesday, London-based Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica claimed at a press conference that the 8.1 million turnout figure in Sunday’s National Constituent Assembly election had been “tampered with” and inflated by about a million votes.

Asked why he did not alert Venezuelan authorities, he said: “I guess we probably thought that the authorities would not be sympathetic to what we had to say.”

A Venezuelan source told the Morning Star all Smartmatic executives left the country on Monday.

Smartmatic is owned by Baron Mark Malloch-Brown, former minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth office under former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown from 2007-09.

Lord Malloch-Brown has close links to Hungarian-born US billionaire NGO kingpin George Soros, who is a major funder of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) — a longstanding and fierce critic of Venezuela’s socialist government — pledging $100 million (£76 million) over 10 years in 2010.

Mr Malloch-Brown was a member of the Soros advisory committee on Bosnia from 1993-94.

As UN Development Fund administrator in 2002, he suggested the agency work alongside Mr Soros’s Open Society Institute.

In May 2007 Mr Malloch-Brown was made vice-president of Mr Soros’s tax-haven hedge fund the Quantum Fund, but resigned in September that year when he joined Mr Brown’s short-lived government.

HRW arms division founder and Open Society Institute legal counsel Kenneth Anderson is also on the International Council of the Human Rights Foundation, whose founder and President Thor Halvorssen Mendoza is the cousin of both far-right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez Mendoza and food distribution giant Polar CEO Lorenzo Mendoza Gimenez.

Mr Lopez was jailed in 2015 for inciting 2014’s “Guarimba” regime-change riots that left 43 dead.

Mr Maduro’s government has accused Polar of orchestrating the food shortages that led to the current crisis by hoarding stocks in its warehouses.


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