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UK: Imperial Tobacco denies accusations of smuggling

Date: 10 Jan 2003

Imperial Tobacco rejected accusations by the House of Commons public accounts committee that it has failed to co-operate with customs officials to prevent smuggling. The committee's report found that the company had stepped up exports to "unusual markets" such as Afghanistan, Andorra and Moldova, even though there was no market for their cigarettes there.

The committee suggested that customs officers who asked 'legitimate questions' about an increase in products being smuggled back into the UK were 'fobbed off'.

Gareth Davis, chief executive of Imperial Tobacco, said that the report was based on historical data, and did not reflect the "high level of co-operation that exists at all levels with HM Customs & Excise."

He went on to attack UK government policy towards the taxation of tobacco. He said: "The actions we have taken in conjunction with Customs have cut seizures of our cigarettes by more than half, but only the Government can tackle the root cause of smuggling, which is the excessively high level of UK tobacco tax."

Article source: BBC / Imperial Tobacco

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