NEW: British American Tobacco has oversupplied Mali with cigarettes for years, knowing their product falls into the hands of traffickers, jihadists, and armed militias.

Our #BigTobacco investigation with @CENOZO_Afrique. 1/…
@CENOZO_Afrique How The Illicit Trade Works:

•BAT oversupplies Mali with cigarette packs with "clean labels," meaning they can be sold widely, including in Europe.
•They are smuggled north through militia-controlled regions
•Insurgents and jihadists linked to IS and al-Qaida profit 2/
@CENOZO_Afrique Islamists, militias, and corrupt officials work together to smuggle BAT’s cigarettes — mainly the Dunhill brand — through Mali’s lawless deserts, sources told OCCRP.

“Armed groups play the role of customs,” an ex-employee of a BAT distributor said. “Yes, [BAT] knows.” 3/
@CENOZO_Afrique Leaked documents show BAT also used a network of informants to track West Africa’s illicit cigarette trade — and their competitors.

One expert described what they show as “corporate espionage stuff.” 4/
@CENOZO_Afrique This map from a BAT document shows distribution points for its cigarettes in Mali, including in rebel-controlled regions.

Just above, it says: “As we know, in a dark market, the war is won on the battlefield with no pity for our competitors.” 5/
@CENOZO_Afrique A 2007 PowerPoint presentation outlined BAT’s battle plan to win the “crown jewels” of Mali and Ghana.

It included fighting Imperial Tobacco “to the death” and preparing for a Philip Morris (PMI) “attack.” 6/
@CENOZO_Afrique The other illicit cigarettes that dominate Mali’s smuggling routes are Marlboros coming from Burkina Faso.

Today’s second story shows Philip Morris's man there is a well-known tycoon — and tobacco smuggler — with a dangerous temper. 7/…
@CENOZO_Afrique “This is their playground,” said economist Hana Ross of how #BigTobacco operates in West Africa.

British American Tobacco's annual turnover alone exceeds the GDPs of Mali and Burkina Faso combined. 8/

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More from @OCCRP

15 Feb
NEW: OCCRP and @irpinvestigates uncover new details about the ’Ndrangheta mafia’s presence in Luxembourg.

We found restaurants, bars, and companies tied to a high-ranking member of the fearsome criminal group. #OpenLux…
2) "It is thought from investigations in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands especially, that Luxembourg is a transit territory for both mafia individuals and their activities and money," explained @annasergi, a leading expert on the ’Ndrangheta.
3) Santo Rumbo, a rising star in the ’Ndrangheta, relocated to Luxembourg after working with crime bosses in Canada.

Police arrested him in Luxembourg in 2019, but Italian authorities told OCCRP they were uncertain what he was doing in the country.
Read 6 tweets
9 Feb
NEW: Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić denies having any ties to Stanko Subotić, a businessman with links to a regional drug lord.

But now, OCCRP & @KRIKrs reveal that one of the president’s closest confidantes has done business with Subotić. #OpenLux 1/…
The outsized role that Nikola Petrović, the president's "best man," plays in Serbia was noted by five US Congress members in 2015.

In a letter to then-VP Joe Biden, they expressed concern that a small group had "consolidated their influence" over key Serbian industries. 2/
Petrović’s ties to Subotić flow through their respective companies in Luxembourg, an historically secretive jurisdiction.

Reporters found this connection using a corporate registry obtained by @LeMonde. Here’s what they uncovered 👇 3/
Read 6 tweets
8 Feb
Luxembourg has made steps towards greater transparency. But it’s still a prime destination for dirty money worldwide.

Here's how the tiny nation became a center of corporate secrecy, who has benefited, and how our #OpenLux investigation pried it open.…
2) Most "offshore" zones, like Panama or the British Virgin Islands, specialize in one particular facet of secretive financial services. But Luxembourg does it all, acting as "a kind of Swiss army knife" for elites around the world, economics professor @gabriel_zucman told OCCRP.
3) Corrupt officials, criminals, and shady businessmen from around the world have all taken advantage. So much Russian capital has found its way to Luxembourg — and back again — that the tiny European state is now one of the country’s biggest foreign "investors."
Read 8 tweets
8 Feb
NEW: Luxembourg has been a haven for financial crime for decades.

Now, a corporate registry obtained by @LeMondefr, and shared with OCCRP, reveals how global elites used companies in the tiny nation to operate in the shadows.

This is #OpenLux (thread):
2) Using a string of Luxembourg firms, we reveal how Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto 🇮🇩 secretly purchased the historic Ludwig complex in Munich 🇩🇪

The palm oil tycoon has been dubbed the top driver of deforestation in the world.…
3) It turns out Luxembourg is a favored destination for oligarchs, tycoons, and royalty looking to snap up some of the continent’s most expensive real estate.

We put some of our most interesting findings into this interactive map.…
Read 5 tweets
27 Nov 20
NEW: Starting in 2008, a small U.S. airline was taken over by a group of Russian investors. Two were later convicted of running an organized crime ring out of Trump Tower.

But Monarch Air’s unusual past didn’t stop it winning U.S. gov’t contracts 🛩️… 1/
The two convicted investors, Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher, were sentenced to five years in jail in 2014 for running a “large-scale sports book” used to launder $100 million.

Golubchik was allegedly an "enforcer" for infamous Russian gang boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. 2/
Today, the son of Trincher and Golubchik's business partner owns Monarch Air.

Despite these ties to organized crime, Monarch and another linked airline have won millions of $$$ in sensitive U.S. gov’t contracts -- including flying people in the witness protection program. 3/
Read 5 tweets
3 Nov 20
NEW: The son of a prominent Azerbaijani official lives in a luxurious London flat. But he didn’t buy this property, an obscure offshore company did.

This story raises serious questions about this deal that implicate a powerful Turkish businessman. 1/…
An Azerbaijani state water management company, led by Ahmad Ahmadzada, has awarded two lucrative contracts to construction firms owned by Mehmet Cengiz, one of Turkey’s richest people.

This investigation reveals another hidden connection between the two men. 2/
Months before Cengiz’s company signed a contract to build a massive dam in Azerbaijan, a London-based firm controlled by Cengiz made a $3m payment to the mysterious Vremax Properties.

It’s unclear what Vremax, which is based offshore, actually does. It has no website. 3/
Read 9 tweets

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