First on EWN: Alleged global espionage in SA’s tobacco industry exposed
An explosive affidavit has revealed a smouldering corporate tobacco war between BAT & its competitors.
PRETORIA - In an explosive affidavit that has exposed a smouldering corporate tobacco war, a former spy has turned against his multinational handlers and laid bare alleged global espionage and sabotage.
Eyewitness News has exclusively obtained a sworn statement in which British American Tobacco (BAT) and Forensic Security Services (FSS) are accused of an unlawful campaign to discredit BAT's competitors.
The document has been prepared by the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) which represents small, local tobacco producers, in a complaint to the Competition Commission.
BAT controls about 85 percent of the South African cigarette market.
A former policeman-turned-spy - and now whistle blower, has described in detail how BAT allegedly hired a network of spies across the country and paid off law enforcement officials to disrupt competitors' business operations.
The man's identity is being withheld until formal criminal charges have been lodged.
He says their campaign involved close work with the authorities, to ensure continued raids on businesses and product seizures.
The man says the rationale was to create the perception in the marketplace that the competitor's products were not worth keeping because of the risk of loss.
He says he was told by BAT and FSS managers, whom he's identified by name and with supporting documentation, that the only way to suppress the competition was to falsely suggest that they were selling and marketing their cigarettes unlawfully.
Fita's Sinen Mnguni has confirmed the veracity of the affidavit while BAT declined to comment.