British-American Tobacco Fined $110m As FG Drops Criminal Charges –

The Federal Government, through the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, has fined British American Tobacco, BAT, and its affiliate companies $110m.

The FCCPC, who disclosed this in a statement on December 27, 2023, said it was for alleged infringements of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, National Tobacco Control Act, and sundry legal instruments.

It added that British American Tobacco should comply and monitor the mandatory public health and tobacco control advocacy, and provisions of written assurances to the commission for two years.

It said, “In exchange for BAT Parties fulfilling their obligations under the Consent Order, the commission withdrew pending criminal charges against BATN and at least one employee with respect to obstructing the commission by attempting to prevent execution of the search warrant and initial lack of cooperation/compliance with steps in the investigation.”

The FCCPC said the decision followed its “active” investigation into British American Tobacco Nigeria Limited and other affiliated companies (BAT Parties) on August 28, 2020, after it received credible pieces of information and intelligence.

“During the year ending 2023, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission came to a final resolution with British American Tobacco (Nigeria) Limited (BATN, British American Tobacco Marketing (Nigeria) Limited (BATMN), British American Tobacco Plc, British American Tobacco (Holdings) Limited (all together referred to as BAT Parties) with respect to a range of infringements of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, National Tobacco Control Act and sundry legal instruments.

“It carried out an order and warrant of search and seizure, approved by a Federal High Court, at BAT locations and the location of a service provider on January 25, 2021.

The statement also stated that during the investigation and to deepen mutual engagements between the commission and BAT Parties, BAT Parties, in writing sought, and the commission assented BAT Parties into cooperation under the Commission’s Cooperation/Assistance Rules & Procedure, 2021.

This further guaranteed the benefits such as possible reduced monetary penalties; waiver of the application of the commission’s Administrative Penalties Regulations 2020; as well as prosecutorial discretion, particularly Rules 5.1 and 5.3 (subject to compliance with Rules 3 and 5.4).

The FCCPC explained her penalties reached after considering the record, BAT Parties’ additional articulation representations, and correspondence.

Part of the verdict of the investigation read: “That BAT Parties shall pay a penalty of $110,000,000 under and pursuant to Section 155 of the FCCPA, Clause 11 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s Administrative Penalties Regulations, 2020 and Clause 4.2 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s Investigative Cooperation/Assistance Rules and Procedures, 2021.

“A distorted market redounds only to the benefit of those who engage in malfeasance, is at the expense of others, and exploitation of consumers while undermining a stable economy. It compromises a constitutional and national priority of economic growth and shared prosperity.”

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