To the Board of Directors of British American Tobacco (BAT):
Arguments against the planned BAT €100M investment in Bulgartabac
Dear BAT Board Members,
We, the undersigned, call on your commitment to transparency and to the highest standards of corporate conduct and ask you to halt your company’s €100М Bulgartabac deal, announced on April 12.
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that, in February this year, the British Parliament adopted the so-called British ‘Magnitsky Bill.’ The U.K. Security Minister Ben Wallace said then: ‘We need to make the UK a hostile environment for those seeking to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime and corruption. In an increasingly competitive international marketplace, the UK just cannot afford to be a haven for dirty money.’
We alert you that with the Bulgartabac deal you would be extending a friendly hand to individuals ‘seeking to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime and corruption.’ You would be affording kleptocrats the opportunity to profit from assets of possible criminal origin.
We strongly suggest that you consider Bulgartabac’s shady ownership. Do you know WHO is the real owner of Bulgartabac? Do you know WHO will benefit from your investment? We deliberately use the capitalized WHO here to draw your attention to the association between the owners of Bulgartabac and the criminal backstage model ‘WHO’ in Bulgaria. Did your company perform actual due diligence of the reputation risk coming from dealings with the Bulgartabac's owners, or owner?
Ample evidence exists that the privatization of Bulgartabac was a criminal scheme involving high-profile Bulgarian politicians. Ample evidence exists that Bulgartabac officials were involved in cross-border smuggling of cigarettes, large-scale tax evasion and transactions with terrorist organizations in the Middle East region. Is your Board aware of the existence of this evidence? Is the Board concerned about the possibility that by proceeding with this deal BAT might be helping the Bulgarian Mafia to embezzle revenues of criminal origin? Were criminal and corrupt groups to use your company's money to tighten their grip on media and to deepen corruption among the judiciary and government officials in Bulgaria, which is a very likely scenario, would that disturb you, the Board members? Would it worry you if your investment worsened the conditions in this least free and most corrupt European Union country?
If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, please stop this deal. It is inevitable that one day the criminal dealings of the owners of Bulgartabac will be investigated and exposed, and the assets of the company seized by the Bulgarian government. BAT could then buy the assets from the government in a clean and transparent deal with no risk to its own reputation.
Do not buy from the Mafia now!
Bulgarian National Radio: Ѕmoke bіllowіng frаm Delyan Peevski's business empire