Lorraine Schuck Tells ABQ: “I Did Not Accept Russian Bribe!”
The Miss Earth Franchise found itself in a huge scandal last year after Russian Media showed a 6 and a half minute report on the pageant with a portion of the report showing Lorraine Schuck, Executive Vice President of Carousel Productions and owner of the Miss Earth Franchise, talking to visitors who offered a $4M bribe for Miss Russia to win.
I saw the video myself and while it does seem incriminating, I wish we could have seen the entire conversation because it is very easy to edit something down to make a person look bad.
Personally, I think she was set up by journalists who were trying to bait her with an impossibly handsome offer so that they could get a story. They just didn’t sound like professional negotiators to me in the video.
Anyway, I had a very long chat with Lorraine Schuck today. She said she wanted to explain things in further detail because their official statement seems to be ‘not enough’. Some groups, she said, are still trying to push the scandal online. This is the gist of what she said to me:
“I believed that these visitors were sent by a powerful person who wanted Miss Russia to win. So I was being polite. You can’t just slam the door on the emissaries of a powerful person. So we talked for an hour and a half. Yes, the amount of 4 million Euros is big but not big enough for me to destroy the integrity of the Miss Earth Franchise. But I never accepted any bribe and Miss Russia did not win. And for the record, that video was taken without my knowledge and aired without my consent.”
“It was also very funny because the Russian news report called me – The Richest Woman in the Philippines – daw. But we all know that that’s not true! Maybe they thought I’m the wealthiest female here because I turned down a 4 million Euro bribe.”
Although the transcipt of the video (available on this site) says dollars was the currency, Lorraine always mentioned Euros in our chat. Aside from the videotaped visit, she says there were two more attempts after this first meeting to force her to make Miss Russia win but Lorraine says she politely declined.
“I think my biggest mistake was being too polite. That was my fault. Filipinos don’t just say no, they need to go around the bush a few times. If they aired the whole conversation then people would have a better idea of what really transpired.”
Apparently, this is not the first time Lorraine Schuck has been approached with a bribe offer to make someone’s favorite contestant win.
“There is always an attempt to bribe. And they do it in many different ways, sometimes subtle, sometimes straightforward. But I always find a way to say no. But with this one we were unlucky. I suspect that because the visitors were just emissaries, the boss wanted proof of what went on in the meeting so they secretly had video cams.
“Many times I said – No, it cannot happen. My problem is I’m nice to everyone, to the press, to people I’m dealing with. And, honestly, I didn’t want to close the door on these people in spite of the bribe attempt. I wanted to keep them as contacts while trying to say no politely.”
The former beauty queen lamented that even if she wanted to rig the results, it is not easy to ‘connive’ with the judges invited to Miss Earth because these are people with integrity to begin with.
“People just don’t understand the complexity of judging a pageant like Miss Earth. First, the judges themselves are people with integrity. What would they think if I told them that I wanted one girl to win? We also have to consider the chaperones’ scores. They are involved in helping us choose our winners. Once the judges place their scores, SGV collates it with the 5% chaperone score and they come up with a list of winners. If there is no question, the judges sign the list. I also can’t tell SGV who should win. They would never agree to that!”
“Besides, Mon (Ramon Monzon – President of Carousel Productions and owner of Miss Earth) and I have a policy that we are not allowed to include our favorites in the semi-finals unlike Donald Trump in Miss Universe. Yes, we do have favorites but they do not always win or even enter the semi-finals. Its funny because we have an internal ‘betting game’ on who might win. One hundred pesos lang yung bet namin. But the bottom line is, we don’t know who will win until the judges make their choice. Winning Miss Earth is not about bribery. It’s about destiny!”
I asked if she was willing to show the score sheets of Miss Earth 2012 to the public, something that might help clear the air.
“No, the scores are not for public viewing because we don’t want the contestants or their supporters to get mad at judges that scored them low. However, if a case is filed, we can request SGV to furnish all score sheets but only for the court’s eyes. In fact, Carousel Productions is most likely going to file a case against certain parties who made defamatory and libelous statements against us online. We are currently discussing our options with our lawyers.”
Lorraine Schuck says the whole brouhaha affected her in the beginning, but now she is laughing off the accusations.
“Bong Dimayacyac (Miss Asia Pacific 1983) called me as soon as the scandal broke out and asked me if I was okay. I said to her – I’ve never been better! The whole story is making Miss Earth more famous and I’m getting more calls from possible franchisees. The bottom line is that we did not accept a bribe and Miss Russia did not win. I was affected at the start but then I realized that news is still news. We are getting more attention now more than ever.”
While the video IS worrisome, ABQ still believes in the integrity of Miss Earth and Lorraine Schuck. For me, it will take more evidence than the Russian news report to prove that the Miss Earth crown is for sale.
Vid mix of the real journalist… and the bribe vid… you hae to learn how to deal with these kinds of people .