EU sues RJR over cigarette smuggling, money laundering
The European Union accused tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds in a lawsuit Wednesday of selling black-market cigarettes to drug traffickers and mobsters, helping them launder profits from their illegal activities.
The 149-page complaint describes in detail Reynolds’ allegedly corrupt business dealings in Europe and Latin America, including with members of the Italian Mafia and Russian organized crime, Colombian drug cartels and high government officials in the Balkans.
RJR executives “at the highest corporate level” made it “part of their operating business plan to sell cigarettes to and through criminal organizations and to accept criminal proceeds in payments for cigarettes by secret and surreptitious means,” the suit alleges.
In May, The Nation published a long detailed investigation on the links between corporate sponsored cigarette smuggling and terrorist funding in Latin America.
A six-month investigation by The Nation, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the PBS newsmagazine show NOW With Bill Moyers (which airs its investigative report on April 19), has unpeeled the many layers of a complex distribution system of a multibillion-dollar trade in smuggled cigarettes.
Lawsuits filed by European and Canadian governments and Colombian state governments against Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (BAT, Brown & Williamson’s British-based parent company) have highlighted the companies’ alleged links to smugglers and money launderers.