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Former Ally Links President Arroyo to Corruption Scandal

A former ally of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has accused the embattled leader of having direct knowledge of a multi-million-dollar telecommunications scandal.

Testifying before the Philippine House of Representatives Monday, Congressman Jose de Venecia says Mrs. Arroyo approved the deal with a Chinese company during a secret meeting in 2006.

De Venecia says he knows because he attended the meeting in China's southeastern city of Shenzhen with Mrs. Arroyo, her husband and senior officials from the company.

The Chinese company, ZTE Corporation denies denies ever bribing any officials in its bid to secure the $329 million project.

Ms. Arroyo canceled the contract last year, but controversy over the deal continues.

De Venicia gave testimony today as part of an impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo.

The complaint is the fourth lodged against Mrs. Arroyo in the past four years and includes the charges of corruption.

Although it is likely to be rejected by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the president's loyalists, it is the first time that she has been directly linked to the scandal.

De Venecia was previously the speaker of the House of Representatives, but lost his post late last year after his son brought forward allegations of bid-rigging for the project.

A company owned by De Venecia's son lost out on a bid for the contract, which was to set up a national broadband network for Philippine government agencies.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.