Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

BAT Says It Doesn't Tolerate Corruption After BBC Bribe Report

  • BBC says BAT paid bribes of $26,000 to officials in Africa
  • BAT says report cites former employee with `vendetta'

British American Tobacco Plc said it doesn’t tolerate corruption after the BBC reported that the maker of Dunhill cigarettes bribed African government officials to influence tobacco legislation, citing documents and a former employee.

In 2012, BAT had a lobbyist arrange bribes totaling $26,000 for three public officials in Rwanda, Burundi and the Comoros Islands, the BBC said on its website. The British broadcaster said the bribery was revealed by a former employee, Paul Hopkins.

“We do not tolerate corruption in our business, no matter where it takes place,” the London-based company said in a statement on its website. “Any company can fall victim to an employee acting inappropriately, but what is most important is how it responds.”

BAT said it investigates all allegations and any breach of policy results in disciplinary action and possibly firing. The company said the BBC report cites “rogue former employees whose employment was terminated in acrimonious circumstances and who have a clear vendetta against us.”

BAT shares traded 0.6 percent lower at 3,846.50 pence as of 8:27 a.m. in London Tuesday. The stock fell 0.8 percent Monday after the BBC website published a first version of the report. The full program was broadcast on its Panorama program late Monday.

Anna Gilmore, a professor who heads the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, said a public inquiry should be held.

The allegations that BAT used bribes to influence politicians “poses serious questions for policymakers in this country and across Africa,” she said in a statement. “The activities detailed would appear to be illegal under the 2010 U.K. Bribery Act.” The BBC said the research group helped in its reporting.

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