Press release – FITA – for immediate release
We have today, after many attempts at engagement, served a request on British American Tobacco South Africa (“BATSA”) in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, Act 2 of 2000 (“PAIA”).
In September 2016 BATSA announced that it had severed ties with forensic investigation firm Forensic Security Services(“FSS”) which had been accused of illegally spying on BATSA’s competitors and colluding with law enforcement agencies to force competitors out of the market.
It has been alleged that the primary targets of the aforementioned practices ascribed to BATSA were local manufacturers or members of FITA in a bid by BATSA to inter alia disrupt the business operations of FITA members and to keep a hold on a market which was slipping from its grasp.
In and around the time of the announcement it also became public knowledge that BATSA had instructed attorneys Norton Rose Fulbright in South Africa, and attorneys Linklaters and later Slaughter & May in the United Kingdom, to conduct investigations on their behalf in respect of allegations which implicated BATSA and/or British American Tobacco PLC and its agents and/or service providers of conduct, including but not limited to unlawful surveillance, unlawful interception of private communications, corruption, money-laundering, tax evasion, unfair trade practices, and undue influence over law enforcement officials in the Republic of South Africa.
Over 3 years have passed since the investigation commissioned by BATSA into the aforementioned unlawful activities was announced however, the findings of this investigation have yet to be released to the public despite repeated requests from a number of parties for them to do so.
We have therefore taken this step to request from BATSA in terms of PAIA that they inter alia make public the findings of their investigation. It is our understanding that BATSA prides itself as a law abiding entity and we therefore implore them to do the right thing and to ensure that they keep their reputation in tact by not allowing this dark cloud to remain over their heads, and by bringing to light the steps taken in ensuring that those who acted unlawfully and tarnished the name of BATSA and BAT Plc have been brought to book.
Issued by the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association: 4 November 2019
For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za