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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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Senators reject bill seeking to to reduce CBN’s regulatory power on FX market

Nigerian senators have rejected a bill seeking to amend the Foreign Exchange Act of 2004 expected to reduce the regulatory function of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the Fx Market.

The bill, titled “The Foreign Exchange (Control and Monitoring) Bill, 2024 (SB. 353),” was sponsored by Sani Musa (APC-Niger), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and was first read on Tuesday, February 20.

According to NAN, Musa described the bill as crucial legislation intended to repeal the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Cap. F34, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

He stated that the proposed law would regulate, monitor, and supervise market transactions and related matters.

He added that the bill will stabilize the country’s foreign exchange market.

“The Bill seeks to stabilize the value of the currency by ensuring the liberalization of foreign exchange transactions to maintain an equilibrium of the balance of international payments.”

However, senators vehemently opposed the bill.

They said it would be counterproductive to CBN’s effort at stabilizing the foreign exchange market.

Senators who opposed the bill are Solomon Adeola (Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation), Tokunbo Abiru (Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions), and Aliyu Wadada (Chairman of the Senate Public Accounts Committee.

Senator Ibrahim Dankwambo (APC-Gombe), giving reason for opposing the bill said that passing such a law would confuse Nigerians.

Similarly, Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC-Edo) pointed out that the senators who had spoken had meticulously summarized and amplified the contradictions and negative implications of passing the law.

Oshiomhole said he believes the bill should not proceed further, as it would effectively take over the CBN’s monetary policy regulations.

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, urged Senator Musa to withdraw the proposed law for further consultations but the senator declined.

Senator Akpabio then called for a voice vote to decide its approval or rejection for a second reading and the majority of lawmakers voted against it.

The development comes as the Naira recorded its first appreciationp against the dollar on Thursday, exchanging at N1,554.65 per dollar.

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Oyebanji Seeks Belgium’s Partnership in Technology, Agriculture, Intellectual Capacity Devt for Wealth Creation

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji says his administration is building blocks for mutual bilateral relationships between the State and developed countries of the world to turn around the fortunes of its citizens.

Governor Oyebanji made this known during a meeting with the Belgium Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Pieter Leenknegt at the Belgium Embassy in Abuja, on Wednesday, where potential areas of collaboration were discussed.

Governor Oyebanji who was accompanied by the some state officials, including Commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Performance Management, Mr Niyi Adebayo; and Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akin Oyebode, DG office of partnership Biodun Oyeleye, highlighted some critical areas of the State’s 30 – year development plan.

He noted that the state government has a clear vision of opportunities in the areas of ecosystem innovation, technology, renewable energy, environmental management and agricultural production and exportation as well as intellectual capacity development for wealth creation.

“Our vision for Ekiti State is clear. Despite the various challenges, indices and factors being that we are landlocked, we are committed to exploring and leveraging opportunities in ecosystem innovation, technology, renewable energy, and agricultural production. Collaboration with developed nations is crucial for the actualization of our 30-year development plan and ensure sustainable growth and prosperity for our people.”

The Governor highlighted the state’s substantial investments in social programs, commercial agriculture, and various intervention initiatives aimed at boosting the purchasing power of Ekiti’s citizens stressing the necessity of international collaboration to fully realize the state’s ambitious 30-year development plan.

In his response, Ambassador Leenknegt acknowledged Ekiti state’s efforts, which align with global best practices and ECOWAS standards. He advised the Ekiti government to expedite the completion of the state’s airport to improve access and connectivity.

He commended the initiatives behind the Ekiti Knowledge zone noting its potential to transform local knowledge into wealth, expressing Belgium’s interest in partnering with Ekiti State in areas such as communication technology, transportation, and tropical agriculture, including cacao and palm kernel production as well as enhancing academic partnerships between Belgian institutions and universities in Ekiti State.

“We recognize and appreciate the significant strides being made by the Ekiti State government. The Ekiti Knowledge Zone is a remarkable initiative with the potential to turn local knowledge into wealth. Belgium is keen to explore collaboration in areas such as communication technology, transportation, and tropical agriculture, including cacao and palm kernel production.” Said the Ambassador

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NCAA to sanction airlines over deceitful departure schedules

National carrier gets licence today, local airlines fault process

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has condemned what it calls the prevalent cases of deceitful departure time scheduling by airlines, warning the erring airlines to desist from the infraction or face dire regulatory actions.

The Acting Director General, Civil Aviation, Nigeria, Captain Chris Najomo, while declaring this on Tuesday at the Authority’s corporate headquarters in Abuja, said the NCAA now runs a zero-tolerance approach to regulatory infractions.

Speaking through the NCAA Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Mr. Michael Achimugu, the acting DG warned the airlines to desist from the infraction or face dire regulatory actions.

“He made the ease of doing business the crux of his action plan for the NCAA. In line with that action plan, he has made processes for licensing easy for operators. The time to secure AOC is now shorter and less cumbersome than it used to be in the past,” he stated.

“The NCAA therefore expects reciprocity from airlines. Chief of which is world-class services to passengers.

Najomo said that if the NCAA is making doing business easier for operators, the operators must satisfy the passengers too with superior services.

He said, “It has come to our notice that some airlines are being reported for advertising deceitful departure times. The NCAA regulation says no airline shall display deceitful passenger departure time at its counter, advert material, or on its website.

“We want to make it very clear that the DGCA has directed monitoring and offenders will face serious regulatory actions.”

According to him, the Authority believes in safety, discipline, and economic regulation which is evidenced in the recent suspension of ten PNCF holders for failing to comply with the recertification advisory issued in April 2024.

He indicated that whilst the NCAA supports airlines to be profitable because of their critical value to the economy, it is important passengers are treated fairly.

Speaking about the ease of doing business environment at the NCAA, Capt. Najomo said the ease of business is an area the Authority will continue to improve.

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