East Africa: British American Tobacco allegedly bribed govt. officials to defeat anti-smoking laws; includes company's comments

Author: Jonathan Owen, Independent, Published on: 1 December 2015

"British American Tobacco accused of bribing senior politicians to sabotage anti-smoking laws"

British American Tobacco, one of Britain’s biggest companies, has been accused of bribing senior politicians and civil servants in a bid to sabotage anti-smoking laws. The allegations by whistleblowers from the company, and supported by court documents, relate to the company’s operations in several African countries...Several individuals involved with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) were allegedly targeted...

Dr Vera da Costa e Silva, head of the WHO FCTC secretariat, accused BAT of “using bribery to profit at the cost of people’s lives.” And Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Panorama’s shocking evidence must be investigated without delay. If true, it is hard to imagine any more disgusting act for a British company than to pay decision makers in Africa to prevent legislation being passed to protect children and young people from a future of addiction, disease and premature death caused by smoking.”...

In a statement, a BAT spokesperson said the allegations were from “former employees with a clear vendetta against us, whose employment was terminated in acrimonious circumstances and who present a completely false picture of the way BAT does business.” They added: “Any proven transgression results in disciplinary action and may lead to dismissal. We will not tolerate corruption in our business, no matter where it takes place.”

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Related companies: British American Tobacco