World Lucky Strike maker BAT has been linked to a bribery proposal involving Robert Mugabe's political party
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- Reports Monday found evidence linking BAT to a proposal to bribe Robert Mugabe's political party.
- BBC "Panorama," The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the University of Bath investigated.
- BAT said the allegations were "historical, and we reject the implications being made."
British investigative news outlets on Monday reported evidence that the maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes was involved in a proposal to pay a bribe to the political party of the late Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
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Reports published after an investigation by, and the University of Bath indicate that British American Tobacco was aware of a deal brokered by a security contractor it used in Zimbabwe to pay $300,000 to $500,000 to Mugabe's ZANU-PF party before he was reelected in 2013.
A BAT representative told Insider: "As far as we are aware, these types of allegations are historical, and we reject the implications being made."
"Panorama" reported that in 2012 the contractor, Forensic Security Services, hired a local security firm to surveil a tobacco factory owned by one of BAT's rivals in Zimbabwe but that the local firm got caught and three of its directors were arrested.
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The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that FSS then brokered a deal with a senior figure in Mugabe's government with the goal of securing the release of the three directors from jail. This deal involved a proposed payment of $300,000 to $500,000 to ZANU-PF, the investigative outlets said.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism said it had obtained leaked documents showing "a plan was hatched with BAT's knowledge to get the directors off the hook and protect BAT's name."
"Panorama" and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism said they received confirmation from three sources that BAT was aware of the deal being brokered. Both publications said the documents they'd obtained didn't show whether the payment was actually made.
In a statement to the BBC, BAT said: "We emphatically reject the mischaracterization of our conduct. Our efforts in combating illicit trade have been aimed at helping law-enforcement agencies in the fight against the criminal trade in tobacco products. Acting responsibly and with integrity underpins the foundations of our culture."
Mugabein 2017 after ruling Zimbabwe for 37 years. A freedom fighter who later became viewed as a tyrannical ruler, he at the age of 95.
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