Daily Management Review

British American Tobacco To Be Investigated For Corruption By Britain


British American Tobacco To Be Investigated For Corruption By Britain
It is nearly two years since allegations of bribery in Africa first surfaced against them, Britain has opened a formal investigation into suspicions of corruption at British American Tobacco (BAT) and its subsidiaries.
The company intends to cooperate with the investigation but did not provide further details, said the world's largest international tobacco company in a statement following the spread of yte news about the investigations.
"The SFO confirms it is investigating suspicions of corruption in the conduct of business by BAT p.l.c., its subsidiaries and associated persons," Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said in a statement on Tuesday.
With the intention to conduct and inquiry into the allegations of historic misconduct in Africa and that it was liaising with the SFO, the company had appointed a law firm, said the maker of brands including Dunhill and Lucky Strike in February last year.
Given that the number and nature of the allegations is large and because of its zero tolerance of corruption anywhere in the world, the company bringing in outside lawyers even though it claimed that was it aware of some of the allegations and had looked into them, BAT had said back then.
With the intention and in an effort to undermine anti-smoking laws, cases of BAT employees bribing officials in East African countries including Rwanda and Burundi were first reported in a November 2015 BBC program describing the cases and then the 2016 move came following the airing of the program on the news channel. Whistleblowing former employee Paul Hopkins had provided internal documents to the BBC which were cited and quoted in the claims made in the program.
On the question of which countries were covered by the investigation, spokeswomen for BAT and the SFO declined to say anything.
A board subcommittee to monitor matters relating to the investigation between board meetings had bene created by the company, BAT had said earlier this year. And in order to review and strengthen its global compliance procedures, it had started a project in 2016, the company had also said.
Initially, to investigate the allegations of misconduct, BAT had appointed law firms Linklaters and Slaughter and May. However, the latter now is the only firm that remains investigating the allegations.
There was a slight increase in the shares in BAT, which tumbled 12 percent in the previous two sessions following a proposal by the U.S. government to cut nicotine in cigarettes.
Following its $49 billion takeover of Reynolds American, last week, the London-based company unseated Marlboro maker Philip Morris International as the world's largest international tobacco firm.
State-owned China National Tobacco Corporation is the world's biggest tobacco company.

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