Washington A Venezuelan businessman on Monday defended his purchase of a U.S. manufacturer of touch-screen voting machines, saying his companies have no ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Antonio Mugica, a dual Spanish-Venezuelan citizen who is CEO of Smartmatic Corp., denied that either Smartmatic or its subsidiary, Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., ever was controlled or influenced by Chavez's leftist government.
"We are definitely concerned about the allegations published which are utterly false," Mugica said at a news briefing. "I haven't met President Chavez. I look forward to the completion of a review by the U.S. government."
Smartmatic, based in Boca Raton, Fla., and Sequoia Voting, which makes voting machines in 16 states and the District of Columbia, on Sunday said they had asked the U.S. government to investigate their 1995 merger to dispel what they called baseless rumors of ties to Chavez.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had been informally reviewing the deal since the spring after Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., called for an investigation, citing a risk to the integrity of U.S. elections.