Questions are being asked about the links between a former British minister of state, a U.S. billionaire and the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly vote count.
France Backs Venezuela Dialogue, Opposes EU Sanctions
London-based Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica claimed on Wednesday that the turnout had been tampered with.
Mugica said it had been inflated by about a million votes, but did not elaborate on how the company arrived at their conclusion.
Asked why he did not alert the Venezuelan government, he said: “I guess we probably thought that the authorities would not be sympathetic to what we had to say.”
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council said over 8 million people had cast their ballots and disputed his claims.
Mark Malloch Brown, a minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth office under the former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is Chairman of Smartmatic.
The British Lord is also Chairman of the International Crisis Group, which has called for a "transitional government" in Venezuela.
"Restoration of constitutional rule probably will require formation of a transitional government of national unity under a mutually acceptable interim president," says the Power without the People: Averting Venezuela’s Breakdown, a document published by the organization on July 19.
In addition, the briefing note calls for the heavy involvement of the Organization of American States in the suggested negotiations, which would also include a "transitional justice" scheme to give government officials "safe passage to exile."
"Carrots as well as sticks are needed."
Formed in the 1990s, the International Crisis Group aims "to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world," through lobbying and "advocacy."
The Washington-based organization receives most of its funds from North American and European governments, as well as private foundations.
The Morning Star reports that Lord Malloch-Brown has close links to the Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire NGO kingpin George Soros.
Malloch Brown was a member of the Soros advisory committee on Bosnia from 1993-94.
As the United Nations Development Fund administrator in 2002, he suggested the agency work alongside Soros’s Open Society Institute.
He also served briefly as the UN deputy secretary-general in 2006.
Leftist Ex-London Mayor Slams Venezuela Opposition ‘Elite’
In May 2007, Malloch Brown was made vice-president of Soros’s tax-haven hedge fund the Quantum Fund, but resigned in September that year when he joined Gordon Brown’s short-lived government.
Soros also serves on the Board of the International Crisis Group, and his Open Society organization is one of the group’s main funders.
And he is a major financier of New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Soros pledged a challenge grant of US$100 million over 10 years in 2010 to the non-governmental organization which has been a long-standing and fierce critic of Venezuela’s socialist government.