BAT-sucked in alleged industrial espionage

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British American Tobacco, which has been drawn in the case of supposed industrial espionage Zimbabwe is analyzing, was once dragged to court in South Africa on identical offences, it has appeared.

Zimbabwe is analyzing economic espionage relating an approximated R100 million worth of cigarettes local firms apparently lost to armed syndicates in transportation to South Africa over the previous year.

Latest data shows that BAT, the manufacturer of Dunhill and Kent cigarette brands, operates with Forensic Security Services, a company of private detectives, in performing corporate espionage in South Africa. This agrees with investigations by The Herald that Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa contracted Forensic Security Services to spy on Zimbabwe cigarette manufacturers (TISA). TISA has since rejected participation in the supposed corporate espionage. BAT is apparently behind the formation of TISA.

The ideas occurred after Savanna Tobacco, Kingdom, Breco trading as Fodya Private Limited, Trednet, Catrag and Chelsea lost smokes worth R100 million to prepared hijacks.

A Nigerian newspaper, Premium Times, lately revealed that in April 2002 a group of lawyers from South Africa received court requests in three South African High Courts urging them to raid the offices of BAT, South African Revenue Services and Forensic Security Services. Forensic Security Services subcontracted TICOZ Protection Services to observe local tobacco companies.

TICOZ as well rejects any engagement in espionage.

“The cloak-and-dagger intrigue followed allegations of phone-tapping and industrial espionage levelled by Pretoria-based tobacco firm Apollo Tobacco against British American Tobacco, the South African Revenue Services and Forensic Security Services,” the paper is cited.  Apollo accused BAT of spying on it.

The paper as well stated Apollo claimed that BAT conspired with SARS officials, applying hired detectives and devices to obtain private data about Apollo’s business operations.

Three High Court judges granted the applications by Apollo’s lawyers and requested searches at the BAT offices in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The attorneys were as well permitted to search the offices of SARS and Forensic Security Services, which British American Tobacco apparently hired to perform monitoring on its rival.

In the course of the hearing, Apollo that is owned by Hennie Delport told the judges that SARS and BAT used their investigation to track aircraft carrying his products between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

BAT Zimbabwe is as well at the centre of the espionage after it appeared last week that it had six years ago acquired an industrial espionage strategy to fight stiff competition from local tobacco companies.

Internal papers revealed BAT Zimbabwe strategy to have a formalised espionage technique, which allows the company to be proactive and not be reactive to rival actions and strategies and not to be found unawares.

The technique also included identifying the company’s key contacts, people who could reveal strategic data and get sound marketing intelligence.


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