British American Tobacco is being investigated for bribing Kenyan officials, including two candidates in Tuesday’s elections.
The company said UK authorities were investigating reports that it stifled anti-smoking laws and illegally acquired its rivals’ trade secrets.
A whistleblower alleged that Senator Moses Wetangula and gubernatorial candidate Martha Karua were some of the beneficiaries, claiming that Ms Karua was given a Sh6.5 million (50,000 Pounds) “donation” through an aide, while the Senator was provided with a free business class air ticket to London, among others. Both have denied wrong doing.
“We are investigating, through external legal advisers, allegations of misconduct. We have been co-operating with the Serious Fraud Office and BAT has been informed that the SFO has opened a formal investigation,” the company wrote on its website.
The SFO had earlier indicated that it was investigating suspicions of corruption in the conduct of business by BAT, its subsidiaries and personnel.
British authorities also opened a confidential channel for those with information about the scandal.BAT, the world’s largest tobacco company, previously downplayed the significance of a whistleblower.Mr Paul Hopkins, who worked for BAT for 13 years, handed a large number of documents to the SFO in December 2015, giving details of the affair. The company dismissed him as a rogue former employee. CIGARGATE Mr Hopkins said he paid bribes on the company’s behalf to Kenya Revenue Authority to access information that BAT could use against its local competitor, Mastermind.