The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has fined the British American Tobacco(BAT) Nigeria Limited and other affiliated companies the sum of One hundred and ten million dollars, for infringement.
In a statement by the Executive Vice Chairman FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, the Commission said the fine was as a result of the level of infractions to its Act committed by the company and its affiliates in Nigeria.
Irukera said that the Commission on August 28, 2020, opened an active investigation with respect to BAT and it’s affiliate companies based on a series of credible information and intelligence with respect to certain conduct of the 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 with respect to certain conduct, on behalf of BAT Parties.
Upon satisfying the Federal High Court sufficient evidence to exercise advanced statutory regulatory/investigatory tools, the court issued an Order and Warrant of Search and Seizure. In furtherance, and pursuant to the Order and Warrant, the Commission on January 25, 2021 executed simultaneous and contemporaneous searches and seizures at multiple BAT Parties locations and a location of a service provider.
Upon full consideration of the record, BAT Parties’ additional articulation, representations and correspondence; totality of evidence procured, violations established under law, BAT Parties’ entry into, and conduct in cooperation and assistance under the Commission’s CAF; the Commission closed the investigation by the Commission and BAT Parties’ mutual execution of a Consent Order and Notice with both parties agreeing:
That BAT Parties shall pay a penalty of $110,000,000 (One Hundred and Ten Million Dollars) under and pursuant to Sections 155 of the FCCPA, Clause 11 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s Administrative Penalties Regulations, 2020 and Clause 4.2 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s Investigative Cooperation/Assistance Rules and Procedures, 2021;
That BAT Parties’ shall be subject to a compliance and monitoring under the supervision of the Commission for a period of 24 months to ensure appropriate behavioral and business practices modification to be more consistent with compliance with prevailing competition laws/regulations; and tobacco control efforts;
Mandatory public health and tobacco control advocacy in a manner compliant with tobacco control legislation and regulations, and satisfactory to the Commission as mitigation to evidence of a pattern of undermining, and circumventing national tobacco control policies and regulations; and that BAT Parties shall provide Written Assurances to the Commission pursuant to Section 153 of the FCCPA as required.
In addition to the penalty of One Hundred and Ten Million Dollars, the FCCPC also directed that BAT Parties’ shall be subject to a compliance and monitoring for a period of 24 months to ensure appropriate behavioral and compliance with prevailing laws.
The Commission also mandated the BAT and it’s affiliates to embark on public health and tobacco control advocacy in a manner compliant with tobacco control legislation and satisfactory to the Commission.
The Commission says it remains committed to its mandate to promote and ensure fair markets and protect consumer interests. The outcome of this 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.