Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Bribery kills

British American Tobacco illegally paid politicians and civil servants in countries in East Africa. Paul Hopkins, who worked for BAT, a British company, in Kenya for 13 years, said he had begun paying bribes after being told it was the cost of doing business in Africa.

"BAT is bribing people, and I'm facilitating it," he said. "The reality is if... they have to break the rules, they will break the rules."

A Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), representative from Burundi, Godefroid Kamwenubusa, and a representative from the Comoros Islands, Chaibou Bedja Abdou, were both paid $3,000 (£2,000). A former representative from Rwanda, Bonaventure Nzeyimana, was paid $20,000.

The secret documents  show the company paid bribes to undermine anti-smoking legislation. In return for the illegal payment to Mr Kamwenubusa, a Burundian senior civil servant, BAT also wanted a draft copy of the country's Tobacco Control Bill. And an email from a contractor working for BAT says Mr Kamwenubusa would be able to "accommodate any amendments before the president signs".

Dr Vera Da Costa e Silva, from the WHO, said BAT "is irresponsible to say the least…It is using bribery to profit at the cost of people's lives, simple as that."

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