The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has slammed a fine of $110 million on British American Tobacco (BAT) Nigeria and affiliate companies for multiple violations of the FCCPC Act and others.
A statement by the management of the commission in Abuja on Wednesday, said the companies also infringed on the National Tobacco Control Act and sundry legal instruments.
The commission said the amount was agreed after a mutual engagement between the Commission and BAT parties under the FCCPC’s Cooperation/Assistance Rules & Procedure (CARP), 2021.
FCCPC said its Cooperation/Assistance Framework (CAF) provided for benefits such as possible reduced monetary penalties and waiver of the application of the Commission’s Administrative Penalties Regulations 2020, among others.
The Commission said the BAT parties’ would also be subject to a compliance and monitoring under the supervision of the FCCPC for 24 months to ensure appropriate behavioral and business practices.
FCCPC said that a mandatory public health and tobacco control advocacy would be done by the companies in a manner compliant with tobacco control legislation and regulations as part of the agreement.
”BAT parties shall provide written assurances to the Commission pursuant to Section 153 of the FCCPA as required.
”In exchange for BAT parties fulfilling their obligations under the Consent Order, the Commission withdrew pending criminal charges against BATN and one employee for attempting to prevent execution of the search warrant and initial lack of cooperation/compliance with steps in the investigation.
”The Commission on August 28, 2020, opened an active investigation with respect to British American Tobacco Nigeria Limited and other affiliated companies (BAT Parties).
”The commencement of the investigation was based on the Commission’s satisfaction that a series of credible pieces of information and intelligence were actionable enough for broader and deeper inquiry.
”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.
”The Commission on Jan. 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,” the Commission said.
The Commission reiterated its commitment to its mandate to promote and ensure fair markets and protect consumer interests.
According to it, the outcome of the investigation demonstrates that commitment and the Commission’s desire as well as will to enforce the law and hold businesses accountable; even when it takes complex, painstaking and protracted investigations.