UK tobacco giant faces sanctions inquiry
14 Apr 2020

British American Tobacco is under criminal investigation by regulators in the United States over suspected sanctions-busting.

The Department of Justice and the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a financial intelligence and enforcement agency that is part of the Treasury department, are investigating “suspicions of breach of sanctions”. It is not clear which country or countries the regulators are focusing on.

BAT is one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, operating in 180 markets where it generated £25.9 billion of revenue last year. Its brands include Dunhill and Lucky Strike. Based in London, it is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index of leading shares and is valued at more than £67 billion. The company has revealed that it is working on a potential plant-based vaccine for coronavirus.

In its annual report, it says that it is co-operating with the investigations, but is unable to assess the potential financial and other consequences, although they “may be material”.

The company lists international and national sanctions regimes among its group risk factors. “The group has operations in a number of countries that are subject to various sanctions, including Iran and Cuba. Operations in these countries expose the group to the risk of significant financial costs and disruption in operations that may be difficult or impossible to predict or avoid or the activities could become commercially and/or operationally unviable”.

By Alex Ralph, The Times, 14 April 2020

Read more at The Times

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