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British American Tobacco fined $635m for N Korea sanctions breach

British American Tobacco fined $635m for N Korea sanctions breach

International tobacco group, British American Tobacco (BAT), has reportedly been fined over $635 million plus interest by the US authorities after one of its subsidiary admitted to violating sanctions and selling cigarettes to North Korea.

According to the US authorities, the settlement is related to the company’s activity inside North Korea between year 2007 and 2017. Head of BAT, Jack Bowles stated that the company deeply regrets its misconduct in selling its products to North Korea despite the presence of sanctions.

For the uninitiated, the US has imposed a number of severe sanctions on the North Korean regime in response to its nuclear as well as ballistic missile activities in the Korean peninsula. The settlement was made between BAT and the US Department of Justice, as well as the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury Department.

BAT is regarded as one of the world's biggest tobacco multinationals and among the UK's top 10 companies. The firm owns several major cigarette brands such as Dunhill, Pall Mall, and Lucky Strike.

In an official statement, BAT stated that it had inked a deferred prosecution agreement with the US DOJ in addition to a civil settlement agreement with the OFAC. The company specified that an indirect subsidiary of BAT in Singapore also entered a plea agreement with the DOJ.

According to the DOJ, BAT also colluded to defraud financial organizations in an effort to make them process transactions from North Korean entities.

North Korea’s eccentric leader, Kim Jong Un, is famously known to be very a heavy smoker. Back in 2022, the USA proposed the topic of banning the export of tobacco to North Korea at the UN Security Council, but this was vetoed by China and Russia.

For years, Pyongyang has faced multiple waves of tough sanctions in response to the country’s frequent nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. However, this has not had any deterring effect on leader Kim, who continues to fuel the impoverished country's weapons program.

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