UPDATED September 25th, 2012
Original post Tuesday, April 20, 2010
(1) a large population;
(2) rising living standards;
(3) moderate cigarette consumption levels leaving room for growth; and
(4) a worldwide trend towards a diminished role for state tobacco monopolies.
Moreover, the Islamic Republic of Iran is conveniently located, wedged between the tobacco industry’s established smuggling centres in the Middle East and the burgeoning tobacco markets in the subcontinent and the former Soviet Union. Documents suggest that the multinational tobacco companies saw the Islamic Republic of Iran not only as a market, but also as a conduit for the supply of contraband cigarettes to othercountries. The attractiveness of the Islamic Republic of Iran is underlined by a recent article in a tobacco trade journal: ‘Iran is the largest consumer in the Middle East and this includes significant cigarette consumption. An estimated 45 billion units are sold each year and consumption is growing at an annual rate of 1 percent.’
If Mr. Levinson was looking to find routes for British American Tobacco (BAT) to transport cigarettes into Iran where the Iranian Government has a monopoly on cigarette manufacturing he was playing with fire.
Despite the warrant for his arrest, Salahuddin has had some indirect contact with American authorities. Shortly after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, US intelligence agents established contact with Salahuddin, who “began a back-channel relationship with American authorities and talked about returning to the United States to stand trial in the murder of Tabatabai.” He sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno dated March 5, 1994, proposing mediating between the U.S. and “certain key figures in the worldwide Islamic movement (Terrorists)” in return for freedom from prosecution.
Abdulraham, in an interview with FoxNews.com, said Levinson was overweight, but otherwise appeared to be in good health. Levinson had some health issues, and somebody like him couldn’t go from being free for 59 years to all of a sudden thrown into jail and not being free.” Tehran has rebuffed all American inquiries into Levinson’s whereabouts.
CSM March 2010..The US State Department marked the third anniversary of the disappearance of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent turned private investigator, from Kish Island in Iran by appealing to the authorities in Tehran to cooperate with the efforts of the US and his wife, Christine, to locate him. Mr. Levinson, his photos above, who served 27 years as an FBI agent and also worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, disappeared from Kish Island, a free trade zone and smuggling center where Iran’s typically strict visa requirements are not enforced, while investigating a cigarette smuggling ring for a private client, Levinson said he was representing British American Tobacco (BAT) and wanted help in cracking a cigarette smuggling ring into Iran. He has seven children and two grandchildren.
According to the Financial Times, Levinson spent his long career in and out of the FBI focused on counter-narcotics and Russian organized crime. The newspaper said that the “British American Tobacco (BAT) told the FT it had employed Mr. Robert Levinson through Bishop International security consultancy to take on cigarette smuggling counterfeiting work.”
The BAT company publicly asserts, “British American Tobacco companies do not smuggle. We do not condone smuggling, and we do not encourage or collude with others to smuggle on our behalf”. 21 Internal documents, however, suggest that contraband had been central to BAT’s corporate strategy across Africa. While distributors and local agents ran day-to-day operations, documents describe how BAT knowingly supplied cigarettes to such parties for contraband purposes while simultaneously relying on legal exports as cover for larger-scale smuggling.
Key to the future”: British American Tobacco (BAT) and cigarette smuggling into China. The Hong Kong-China supply route…Hong Kong has provided the most important route into China for contraband cigarettes from the early 1980s when the territory was still under British colonial rule. Documents describe billions of sticks shipped by BAT UK and Export (BATUKE) and US subsidiary Brown & Williamson to either BAT Hong Kong (BATHK) directly or via Singapore depending on the brand and place of manufacture. The initial motivations to do so were to take advantage of a highly lucrative trade, and the belief that competing companies would do so if BAT did not.
Tobacco industry documents released following litigation in the United States have demonstrated the complicity of British American Tobacco (BAT) in large-scale smuggling. Whereas previous work has illustrated the strategic importance of smuggling to BAT’s expansion in Asia and the former Soviet Union, this paper offers the first detailed analysis of corporate involvement in contraband to one country. The significance of this work is enhanced by China’s status as the world’s largest cigarette market, comprising 350 million smokers and one-third of cigarettes smoked. So far dominated by domestic producers, China is seen as the “ultimate prize” among the world’s emerging tobacco markets because of a potentially huge demand for foreign brands.
British American Tobacco to acquire Italian state tobacco company. London, July 16 /PRNewswire/ — British American Tobacco (BAT) agreed to acquire ETI – Ente Tabacchi Italiani S.p.A., Italy’s state tobacco company, for EUR2.32 billion (Au1.6 billion). The important acquisition will elevate British American Tobacco to the number two position in Italy, the second largest tobacco market in the European Union.
The scale of the enlarged operations will bring significant opportunities to compete and grow ETI’s local brands and British American Tobacco’s (BAT) international brands. Martin Broughton, Chairman of British American Tobacco, said: “This strategically important investment will transform our presence in one of Europe’s largest tobacco markets. British American Tobacco (BAT) BATUKE cigarettes desire to control the worlds cigarette smuggling routes into highly lucative state controlled foreign Governments who have a monopoly on cigarette manufacturing like Iran China etc. is complicete in any harm that may have occured to Mr. Robert Levinson.
Bill Warner Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM at www.wbipi.com