By Pinky Khoabane
British American Tobacco (BAT) has been involved in a full-scale war against African policy makers keen on stemming-out cigarette smoking. It has also run a sophisticated spying network aimed at closing down competitors, and the bribery and espionage in BAT is knocking at the door of the London headquarters.
Reinet Investments, headed by Johann Rupert sold billions of rands worth of shares in BAT in recent years, but BusinessDay in May this year reported: “The value of Reinert’s remaining 68-million BAT shares – as at the end of March – was about R61 bn”
The paper continued: “As at the of March, BAT represented 67.3% of Reinet investment portfolio, compared with 70.5% previously”. Reinet received a dividend of €149m from BAT.
With the sales of cigarettes estimated to decline, Africa and South America have been the focus of the tobacco industry.
The BBC’s Panorama exposed the extent of the rot late last year. Paul Hopkins, a former BAT Security Manager who had worked for BAT for 13 years, revealed how he had made illegal payments to politicians and civil servants in East Africa.
He had been spying and bribing for BAT for 13 years and was unceremoniously fired in 2014 when he questioned illegal payments to an organisation which included a former member of the World Health Organisation’s Framework on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a UN initiative that aims to reduce tobacco-related deaths.
The Independent, late last year, also exposed the corruption at BAT.
Tomorrow we bring you the extent to which BAT has captured state apparatus.