Batsa severs ties with forensic firm FSS

This after developments comes after weeks of online leaks of Forensic Security Services documents.

Picture: sxc.hu.

JOHANNESBURG - British American Tobacco South Africa(Batsa) has confirmed it has severed ties with a forensic investigation firm which has been accused of illegally spying on its competitors and colluding with law enforcement agencies to force them out of the market.

The developments comes after weeks of online leaks of Forensic Security Services (FSS) documents, including evidence of its surveillance, email and various reports.

Earlier this year, a former employee stated in an affidavit how FSS allegedly recruited a network of spies and paid bribes to various law enforcement agencies, including South African Revenue Services (Sars) officials.

Batsa's Joseph Ralebepa says the company takes the allegations seriously, and is investigating them with the help of external advisors.

While he did not specifically refer to forensic security services, he says the company will no longer instruct anti-illicit trade activities of the kind that have been the subject of the allegations.

Ralebepa says Batsa has given the instruction that all such activities to cease with immediate effect.

An FSS employee has referred questions to its attorney, who has not yet responded.

Eyewitness News has also questioned the Hawks, but not had a response, as to whether it will be investigating the alleged criminal conduct revealed in the leaked documents.