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British American Tobacco Conducted Potentially Illegal Activities

British American Tobacco

British American Tobacco conducted potentially illegal activities to undermine health policy, sabotage competitors in Africa – report

Two new analyses of whistleblower documents and court records by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath and published by STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog, suggests that British American Tobacco Plc allegedly used payments to dozens of individuals and potentially unlawful surveillance to tighten its already crushing market grip on Africa.

The reports – one on the company’s activities in several East and Central African countries, another on its aggressive tactics in South Africa – reveal that BAT appeared to be operating “as if it were above the law according to the report on South Africa to sell cigarettes to African’s products known to cause tobacco related illness death and economic harm across the region.

Evidence appears to connect BAT to hand-delivered cash, cars, per diems and campaign donations to dozens of politicians, civil servants, journalists as well as people working at competitor companies. The payments may have helped secure influence on health policies in key African countries. Documents also provide evidence that suggests, in South Africa, BAT hired private contractors, under the pretense of anti-smuggling efforts, to carry out military-style surveillance and operations to disrupt its competitors.

Commenting on the reports’ findings, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Chairman of the African Tobacco Control Alliance said, “BAT’s behavior is a reminder of the tobacco industry’s deep colonialist roots, showing contempt for African laws, business and trade and the health and well-being of Africans. Then and now, the tobacco industry seeks to exploit Africans for its own profit with no consideration for the harm it causes.”

“Our analysis shows that BAT’s potentially corrupt practices in Africa were not just the work of a few bad apples,” said Andrew Rowell, Senior Researcher Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, a partner in STOP The geographic spread of the activity, the infrastructure used and the number of senior staff involved suggest that BAT ’s payments were routine, with the evidence trail frequently leading back to BAT’s London headquarters This is not the kind of company any government should leave unregulated or fail to investigate“

“Buying Influence and Advantage in Africa: An Analysis of British American Tobacco’s Questionable Payments” is based on leaked documents including internal emails and invoices and court affidavits from two former employees turned whistleblowers. It details BAT’s activities between 2008 and 2013 across 10 Central and East African countries.

The study’s “British American Tobacco in South Africa “Any Means Necessary” is based on leaked company documents, whistleblower testimony and court documents from litigation in South Africa.

Buying Influence and Advantage in Africa: Evidence from 10 Countries

In January 2021 the U.K. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) concluded its five-year investigation into alleged bribery by the company and its employees, citing that there was not enough evidence to support prosecution as defined under the U.K. Code for Crown Prosecutors, while further stating that: “The SFO will continue to offer assistance to the ongoing investigations of other law enforcement partners.”

Analysis of whistleblower documents connected to BAT’s work in East and Central Africa revealed evidence of questionable payments made in Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Researchers identified 236 payments made between 2008 and 2013 totaling US $601,502 that were allegedly used to try to influence policy and sabotage competitors.

Researchers categorized payments into two categories: those “raising questions under the United Kingdom Bribery Act (UKBA), and another less serious but still suspicious group of payments “warranting further investigation under the UKBA.” The payments included:

· More than $28,500 to sources within the Kenya Revenue Authority and more than $38,500 to a former Justice Minister allegedly in exchange for intelligence and for assistance with BAT’s efforts to prevent SICPA from winning the tender over Codentify.

· $20,000 to the chair of a Ugandan parliamentary committee to allegedly “amend” a report related to an investigation into Continental Tobacco Uganda.

· An offer of $110,000 to an executive of Leaf Tobacco and Commodities Ltd. of Uganda allegedly in exchange for evidence of potentially illegal activities by the company. A document detailing the proposal appears to include an offer to arrange an immunity from prosecution agreement

· Roughly $56,000 to a private contractor allegedly to covertly establish a trade union and orchestrate labor unrest at a competitor, Mastermind Tobacco Kenya. The effort was dubbed Operation Snake.”

· Support for “Operation Deep Jungle,” allegedly to establish a permanent informant at a rival company Japan Tobacco International.

The documents suggest that BAT often routed payments through third party companies referred to as service providers.” They also show that BAT staff in London appear to have been involved in requesting and authorizing payments, processing invoices, and approving service provider contracts. Some employees seemed to know they were involved in questionable activities as they used aliases and private email accounts when communicating BAT in South Africa: Crossing the Line and Covering its Tracks

Analysis finds that to solidify BAT’s tobacco monopoly in South Africa, BAT and a private contractor may have repeatedly crossed the line of legality to undermine competitors and disrupt operations. It further alleges that:

Working with state agencies while allegedly complicit in smuggling

While BAT gained access to state agencies, ostensibly to help fight illicit trade, and issued public statements to say that it supported government efforts to eradicate the problem, BAT cigarettes produced in South Africa were allegedly being smuggled into West Africa, fueling conflict, organized crime, and political instability.

“BAT operates in more than 170 countries and the involvement of head office staff and executives in the activities highlighted in these reports raises questions about its business practices beyond Africa,” said Gan Quan, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union, a partner in STOP. “We urge anyone with information about potentially illegal activities to come forward and for regulators to take a hard look at this company and how it behaves. Governments and consumers have every reason to be suspicious.”

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NBS Says Price Of Kerosene Hit N1, 041 per Litre In October

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has disclosed that the average retail price of Household Kerosene (HHK) paid by consumers in October was N1, 041.05 per litre.

The NBS stated in its “National Household Kerosene Price Watch” for October 2022 that the average price was a 9.90 per cent increase over the N947.30 per litre recorded in September 2022.

“On a year-on-year basis, the average retail price per litre of the product increased by 145.87 per cent from N423.42 recorded in October 2021.”

On state profile analysis, the report showed that the highest average price per litre of kerosene in October 2022 was recorded in Cross River at N1,304.17, followed by Enugu at N1,300.00 and Lagos at N1,294.44.

Conversely, it said the lowest price was recorded in Borno at N783.33, followed by Rivers at N804.17 and Bayelsa at N805.67.

The NBS said that analysis by zone showed that the South-East recorded the highest average retail price per litre of Kerosene at N1,191.14, followed by the South-West at N1,142.60.

It said the North-East recorded the lowest average retail price per litre of kerosene at N905.18.

The report said the average retail price per gallon of kerosene paid by consumers in October 2022 was N3,516.87, indicating an 8.67 per cent increase from N3,236.27 recorded in September 2022.

”On a year-on-year basis, the average price per gallon of kerosene increased by 126.46 per cent from N1,552.96 recorded in October 2021.”

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No Plan To Introduce N5,000 Note- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has no plan to introduce N5,000 denominated banknote as being speculated by some sections of the society.

Ahmed Umar, the Director, Currency Operations of CBN clarified this at a three-day workshop organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), for members of the Financial Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) and Business Editors.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop, which opened on Monday in Port Harcourt, has as its theme: “Building Depositors Confidence Amidst Emerging Issues and Challenges in the Banking Industry.”

Umar who spoke on the topic, “Redesign of the Naira: Benefits to the financial system and the Nigerian economy”, said the apex bank was not carrying out note restructuring.

“We are not introducing any new note because there was noise, some people have seen one N5000 note that we don’t know about,” he said.

Umar was represented by Amina Halidu-Giwa, the Head, of the Policy Development Division, Currency Operations Department of the bank.

He explained that if the apex bank wanted to carry out note restructuring, it would need to coin the lower bills, like the N100 note for example.

He also said that the apex bank had not made any provision for exchange in the redesigned note, adding that what it was printing would only replace the currencies withdrawn.

“What we are printing is going to be very limited because we want other means of settling transactions to be used.

“Because of Nigerians and cash, there seems to be a problem. And it will give us enhanced visibility and control of the currency.

“We will also be able to control the number of banknotes outside,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that videos of some bundles of new N5,000 notes with the name of the Central Bank of Nigeria clearly printed on them, circulated on WhatsApp immediately after the apex bank announced plans to redesign the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes in October.

(NAN)

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Jaiz Bank Relocates Head Office To Abuja

Jaiz Bank Plc has relocated its Head Office to its own building, Jaiz Bank House, in Garki, Abuja.

A statement by the company on Tuesday said the movement coincides with the 10th anniversary of the bank.

The bank commenced operations in 2012, with three branches in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna.

It currently has 46 branches across Nigeria.

The statement said the new Head Office would provide the bank with more visibility, enlarged space and enhanced capacity to deliver excellent service to its stakeholders.

“The management is thankful to its esteemed customers and shareholders who have continued to support the bank all along and appreciates the hardworking staff for their dedication to duty.

“In the non-interest banking space in Nigeria, Jaiz Bank controls over 62% assets, which is supported by its robust gross income of N23.74 billion as at end of September 2022 from N18.78 billion at the end of September 2021, representing “26.34% increment.”

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