BINAY ASKS: WHO IS THE ‘WELL-CONNECTED BUSINESSMAN” WHO CALLED T.I.M. LAST WEEK, ASKING THEM TO COOPERATE?

PRESS RELEASE

1 JULY 2009

REF: JOEY SALGADO

BINAY ASKS: WHO IS THE ‘WELL-CONNECTED BUSINESSMAN” WHO CALLED T.I.M. LAST WEEK, ASKING THEM TO COOPERATE?

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today said a “well-connected businessman” who reportedly called up an official of Total Information Management (TIM) last week telling them to “cooperate” so as not to offend “powerful people” holds the key to the decision of TIM to break its ties with Smartmatic Inc.

TIM reportedly decided to scuttle its ties with Smartmatic after the call, which came after an official of the Barbados-based company was seen in a huddle with a “member of a very influential clan” and a “very powerful man” in a coffee shop.

“Under the administration of Mrs. Arroyo, a businessman will not be influential and well-connected unless he has direct ties to powerful personalities in government,” he said.

“The story will become clearer once the identity of this influential businessman is revealed,” he said.

Binay also said another report that a Smartmatic official was seen in a huddle with “a member of a very influential clan” and a “very powerful man” prior to the call to the TIM official should be probed further.

“These reports show that there are well-connected and powerful interests who are very much interested in the automation project, whether for financial gain or for fraud, or both,” he said. “But they tend to show that the demand for money is only the tip of the iceberg.”

In a report, ABS-CBN NEWS.com/Newsbreak, citing a source familiar with the poll automation project, said a ranking TIM official received a call from a “well-connected businessman” last week.

At that time, TIM, which has 60 percent equity in the consortium that won the project to automate the 2010 elections, was reportedly stalling in signing the papers to formalize its partnership with Smartmatic.

The report said the TIM official was told to “cooperate” since “powerful people are being offended.”

TIM first suspected that something was being done in the backroom when an associate saw a member of a well-connected clan and a very influential man in a huddle with a Smartmatic official, the report added.

The encounter happened in a coffee shop, but abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak said it could not independently confirm the coffee shop encounter.

The calls from a member of a powerful clan bolstered TIM’s suspicions, the source said. TIM has become wary that it could be an unwitting partner to some irregularities, which was why it was pushing for some control in the joint venture. “That made TIM decide to quit last Saturday, said the report.

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