FCCPC hammers BATN with $110m fine over infractions

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has slammed a penalty of $110 million on British American Tobacco Nigeria Limited and affiliated companies over alleged violation of relevant laws.

FCCPC, in a statement last week said the penalty was part of the resolution reached between the company, its parties and the commission after investigation into possible violations of the FCCPC Act, 2018, and relevant tobacco control laws, regulations and directives.

The commission noted that on August 28, 2020, it opened an active investigation with respect to British American Tobacco Nigeria Limited and other affiliated companies also known as BAT Parties; based on its “satisfaction that a series of credible pieces of information and intelligence were actionable enough for broader and deeper inquiry with respect to certain conduct, for, by and on behalf of BAT Parties.”

According to the statement, FCCPC’s action was pursuant to sections 17 (a), (e), (g), (h), (l), (t), (x), (y); 27, 28, 33, 108, 110, 123, 124, 131 (and others) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018.

“Upon satisfying the Federal High Court that there was probable cause and sufficient evidence to exercise advanced statutory regulatory/investigatory tools, the court issued an Order and Warrant of Search and Seizure.

“In furtherance, and pursuant to the Order and Warrant, the Commission on January 25, 2021 executed simultaneous and contemporaneous searches and seizures at multiple BAT Parties locations and a location of a service provider.

“The Commission gathered, received and procured substantial evidence from forensic analysis of electronic communications and other information/data obtained during the search, as well as other evidence procured during, and after the search from other legitimate sources.

“Additional investigation, including proffers, hearings, transcripts of sworn testimonies, and continuing analysis of evidence established and supported multiple violations of the FCCPA and other enactments,” it said.

The commission further noted that during the investigation and in furtherance of mutual engagements with BAT Parties, the company sought, in writing, and the commission accepted BAT Parties into cooperation under the Commission’s Cooperation/Assistance Rules & Procedure, 2021, CARP.

The Commission noted that in exchange for BAT Parties fulfilling their obligations under the Consent Order, the commission withdraw 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

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