BOSTON — Today, the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed it has launched a formal investigation into British American Tobacco (BAT) for corruption and bribery allegations in East Africa.
This announcement comes nearly two years after the BBC Panorama program aired whistleblower allegations that BAT had conspired in a campaign of bribery to weaken and delay lifesaving policies and undermine competition in East Africa.
This development is a strong indication that the SFO has unearthed serious evidence to support the allegations. Legal action by the SFO could have massive consequences for BAT’s global operations. The corporation recently became the world’s largest transnational tobacco corporation following a merger with Reynolds American.
Please see Senior International Organizer Cloe Franko’s statement below.
“We applaud the Serious Fraud Office for taking this step. This investigation is a monumental advancement in the global movement to hold BAT and Big Tobacco accountable. The BBC and subsequent media investigations have confirmed what many around the globe already knew: BAT and Big Tobacco are willing to resort to corruption, abuse, and deception to continue to sell its deadly product. An investigation of this scale could result in consequences on par with those Big Tobacco faced in the 90’s in the United States and could help to further rein in Big Tobacco’s abuses and deadly business around the world.”