Former Philippines president charged in ZTE fraud case

ZTE is involved in a legal ruckus in the Philippines. The company is in the middle of a national row after the Office of the Ombudsman ruled that former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be found guilty of a lesser “graft” rather than “plunder” charge. She was accused of signing an “unlawful deal” to use ZTE’s services in a $329-million national broadband network project. 

The former president was investigated and then hauled in front of a judge after progressive group Bayan made a complaint in February. She is claimed to have received gifts and favours from ZTE at various lunches and golf matches while the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) were reviewing the company’s proposal. 

Macapagal-Arroyo is also facing a separate charge of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. She is accused for being interested for personal gain, willfully, unlawfully and criminally when it came to the National Broadband Network Project, as well as giving the seal of approval despite her knowing of irregularities and anomalies that should have first been ironed out.

She and her husband have also been accused of using their political sway to push the deal with ZTE through.

Bayan wanted the charges to be more serious but Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has rejected the pleas. She told a Philippine newspaper that she “did not approve the argument” and would stand by her initial ruling.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said he was glad criminal charges had been filed against Macapagal-Arroyo but was “somewhat disappointed that only graft charges were filed.”