Belfast Telegraph

British American Tobacco probed over East Africa bribe allegations

British American Tobacco (BAT) is facing an investigation from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) linked to allegations that it paid bribes in East Africa.

The SFO confirmed it had launched a probe focusing on " suspicions of corruption" in the conduct of the business, its subsidiaries or people associated with the firm.

The Dunhill and Lucky Strike cigarette-maker said it was also investigating the alleged misconduct through its own advisers and would co-operate with SFO probe.

The allegations were first made in a BBC Panorama programme two years ago and centre around claims that illegal payments had been made to civil servants and politicians in East Africa.

Despite the announcement, shares in BAT were up more than 1% in morning trading on the London Stock Exchange.

In a statement, BAT said: "As previously announced, we are investigating, through external legal advisers, allegations of misconduct.

"We have been co-operating with the Serious Fraud Office and British American Tobacco has been informed that the SFO has now opened a formal investigation.

"BAT intends to co-operate with that investigation."

The FTSE 100 company has formed a board sub-committee to oversee matters concerning the investigation, while it has also appointed an external law firm to spearhead its own investigation.

A spokesman for the SFO said: "The SFO confirms it is investigating suspicions of corruption in the conduct of business by BAT plc, its subsidiaries and associated persons.

"If you have information relevant to this investigation, please contact the SFO through its secure and confidential reporting channel."