Connect with us

Business

British American Tobacco Conducted Potentially Illegal Activities

Published

on

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.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2 × 2 =

Business

Marginal fields: NUPRC awards licences to 161 companies, rakes N200bn, $7m

Published

on

Marginal fields: NUPRC awards licences to 161 companies, rakes N200bn, $7m

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) says the 2020 marginal field bid round exercise generated about N200 billion as well as $7 million in revenue for the federal government (FG).

Gbenga Komolafe, chief executive officer (CEO), NUPRC, made this known on Tuesday while issuing petroleum prospecting licences (PPL) to successful bidders in Abuja.

Marginal fields are smaller oil blocks developed by indigenous companies not exploited in the last ten years.

In May 2021, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) — now NUPRC — completed the first successful bid programme after 18 years of bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Successful companies include Ardova Plc, Matrix Energy Ltd, Sun Trust Oil Company Limited, Deep Offshore Integrated Service Ltd, Island Energy Ltd, Sigmund Oil Field Ltd, among others.

Out of the 665 entities that expressed interest in the exercise, Komolafe said 161 PPLs were awarded to successful 2020 marginal fields companies while out of the 57 fields presented in the bid round, 41 were fully paid for.

He said 37 fields were also issued with the PPL, having satisfied all conditions for the award.

Komolafe said the marginal fields award initiative began in 1999 and was borne “out of the need to entrench the indigenisation policy of government in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry and build local content capacity.”

He added that the scheme was also targeted at creating employment opportunities and encouraging increased capital inflow to the sector.

“Since its inception, a total of 30 fields have been awarded, with seventeen 17 currently producing. A breakdown of the allocation of the fields to indigenous operators is as follows: two fields awarded in 1999, 24 in 2003/2004, one each in 2006 and 2007, and two in 2010. 10 years later, in 2020, 57 fields were put up for bidding,” he said.

“It is significant to note that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act has brought an end to the era of marginal field awards. Section 94(9) of the Act states that ‘no new marginal field shall be declared under this Act’.

“Accordingly, the minister shall now award PPL on undeveloped fields following an open, fair, transparent, competitive, and non-discriminatory bidding process in line with sections 73 and 74 of the Act.”

Meanwhile, Komolafe said revenue earnings in the country is not reflective of the upsurge in international prices of crude oil owing to sabotage, theft, as well as other operational challenges.

Consequently, he urged potential licensees to take advantage of the current market realities and promptly bring their fields to production.

Continue Reading

Business

Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

Published

on

Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

The Nigerian naira has dropped to N614 against the dollar at the parallel section of the foreign exchange market.

The figure signifies a depreciation of N7 or 1.2 percent compared to the N607 it traded last two weeks.

Bureaux De Change operators (BDCs), popularly known as ‘abokis’, who spoke to TheCable in Lagos on Tuesday, said they purchase the greenback at N608/$, make a gain of N6, and then sell at N614.

At the official market, the naira also depreciated by 0.21 percent to close at N421/$ on Monday, according to information obtained from FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange — a platform that oversees official foreign-exchange trading.

Nigeria operates multiple exchange rate windows ranging from the importers and exporters window (I&E) window, where forex is traded between exporters, investors, and purchasers of forex, the SMEIS window where forex is sold to importers, and others.

International organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have constantly advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unify the official and parallel market exchange rates.

But Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, had said that despite advice offered by IMF and the World Bank, developing economies such as Nigeria had the liberty of adopting “homegrown solutions to their economic problems.

According to him, the managed floating exchange rate, which allows the CBN to intervene in the market when there is a supply shock, would be in place as long as supply exceeds demand.

“They want us to free the exchange rate. And you do know that this has some impacts on the exchange rate itself,” he had said.

“When you allow that to happen, you will have an uncontrollable spiral on the naira.

“But what managed float means is that we have some measures in place to help control the spiral.”

Continue Reading

Business

FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

Published

on

FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

These are challenging times for the federal and state governments as one major source of income to the federation account seems to be totally cut off.

On Monday, The National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) revealed it failed to remit monies to the federation account in May 2022 despite making N470.61 billion.

This is the fifth straight month NNPC has failed to credit the federal account while exporting crude at an average price of $100 per barrel.

Details of the June FAAC report obtained by The Harmattan News showed NNPC since the start of the year made N1.897 trillion, over N234.1 billion more than the expected revenue.

Sadly, however, NNPC said all the revenue had gone into various expenditure which includes petrol subsidy, oil search, Pipeline Security & Maintenance cost, National Domestic Gas Development and Nigeria Morocco Pipeline cost among others.

As expected, the bulk of the expenditure, N1.27 trillion, went toward recovery (also known as petrol subsidy).

In fact, NNPC said it has budgeted another N617 billion for petrol subsidy in June.

The report reads: “The Value Shortfall on the importation of PMS recovered from May 2022 proceeds is N327,065,907,048.06 while the outstanding balance carried forward is N617bn .”

“The estimated Value Shortfall of N845,152,863,012.97bn (consisting of arrears of N617bn plus estimated May 2022

Value Short Fall of N227,721,200,478.23) is to be recovered from June 2022 proceed due for sharing at the July 2022 FAAC Meeting,” it added.

The development means states have a tough road ahead and will have to look inwards to cover for the drop in federal allocations.

Already, some states have announced plans to slash workers’ salaries over dwindling income.

Kano Sate has already announced plans to slash workers’ salaries, following in the foot steps of the Ekiti State government that announced civil servants’ and political appointees’ salaries will be slashed in response to the present economic reality in the country.

Ekiti went further to suspend minimum wage implementation with no date of resumptions.

The Harmattan News had recently reported that pension contribution from governments dropped to a 16-year low in the first quarter of 2022.

From recent developments, it is more likely the figure will tank further.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending