Researchers at the University of Bath and STOP, a global tobacco watchdog, say they worked for six years to analyze hundreds of thousands of leaked industry documents indicating what they consider to be serious misconduct on the part of BAT, one of the UK’s largest companies.
The company made more than 230 questionable payments totaling nearly half a million pounds from 2008 to 2013 in ten countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan to “influence policy in its favor and sabotage its competitors, according to researchers “.
Evidence appears to link the company to cash payments, cars, per diems, campaign donations and even plane tickets to dozens of African politicians, officials and journalists.
“The UK turns a blind eye”
Another report by researchers based on leaked documents and court affidavits found that BAT was engaged in “possibly illegal informant networks, state capture and potential smuggling of its own products” in South Africa, the most industrialized and richest country on the continent.
While BAT claims dishonest elements within the company committed these wrongdoing, researchers say these actions and payments appeared to be systematized and supported by senior executives, including those at BAT’s London headquarters.
“BAT seems to work in the days of Queen Victoria with a colonial hat,” says Andy Rowell of the University of Bath, one of the report’s lead researchers.
“It is UK-centric. It dominates the market in two-thirds of Africa. Many of these countries are a monopoly, and it operates on the continent with impunity. As our Africa report shows. from the South, it is doing essentially everything in its power to maintain this market monopoly.
“The UK government is turning a blind eye to BAT’s activities in Africa. It is a paradox that as smoking rates decline in the West, they rise in places like Africa,” Rowell added.
The news comes after a joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the UKTN and the University of Bath found that BAT allegedly offered a bribe between $ 300,000 and $ 500,000 to the former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe in 2013 to free some people who were caught spying on behalf of a company released from prison.
In a statement posted on its website, BAT dismissed claims that it was involved in the illicit cigarette trade. The company declined to comment to The telegraph on alleged questionable payments or surveillance teams.
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