What do we know about the smuggling of cigarettes into Canada?
1. We have the testimony of former RJR-Macdonald executive Les Thompson, and we know details of federal allegations regarding the role of RJR-Macdonald, US-based R.J. Reynolds, and the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers’ Council. There are media reports of criminal investigations.
- “Tobacco insider talks : Major firms were deeply involved in cross-border smuggling, former executive says,” and sidebar, Montreal Gazette, Dec. 18th, 1999.
- “Sixty Minutes” interview with Les Thompson CBS, Jan. 18th, 2000. [no longer available]
- The federal government’s statement of claim against RJR and the CTMC, on the website of the Tobacco Control Resource Center. See also the government press release on the RICO lawsuit, with background information, Dec. 21st, 1999.
- Tobacco tax fraud earns no jail time, Montreal Gazette, Feb. 5th, 2000. Les Thompson’s former bosses stick to the “rogue employee” theory of how Thompson allegedly made millions of dollars for RJR-Macdonald. [no longer available]
- Ottawa’s tobacco suit faces new challenge, Montreal Gazette, March 21st, 2000. Has the limitation period run out on the federal government’s RICO suit against RJR?
- RJR seeks to quash federal suit, Montreal Gazette, March 24th, 2000. RJR seems to be preparing for a long legal battle against the federal government.
- Ex-tobacco executives co-opted by RCMP, Globe and Mail, April 7th, 2000. Tobacco company executives are apparently helping the RCMP in their investigations in hopes of getting reduced sentences. [no longer available]
- Ex-VIPs at tobacco firm helping probe, Montreal Gazette, April 8th, 2000. Which RJR executives have been trying to get immunity deals from the RCMP?
- Smuggling meant gains for tobacco company, Globe and Mail, April 18th, 2000. [no longer available] The B.C. government has released a new set of documents from Guildford, including numerous interesting ones about Imperial Tobacco and smuggling. The document referred to in the Globe and Mail article is a 17-page “Market Update” from April 25, 1994, making it clear how “DFX” (duty free) is simply seen as another “distribution channel” — though other documents make clear that most DFX shipments end up on the black market.
- Federal government hits speedbump in lawsuit on smuggling, July 5th, 2000, NSRA news flash on June 30th U.S. district court decision to throw out the federal lawsuit on technical grounds.
- Government to appeal case against tobacco smuggling, Government of Canada, July 28th, 2000. Press release, with backgrounder, on federal appeal of June 30th ruling.
- Ottawa to appeal cigarette ruling, Globe and Mail, July 29th, 2000. [no longer available]
2. We have information from the British American Tobacco depository in Guildford, England, on Imperial Tobacco’s role in the smuggling issue.
- Imperial Tobacco, Imasco, and the Smuggling of Cigarettes into Canada, Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, first published on Jan. 28th, 2000, substantially updated April 25th, 2000. With hyperlinks to referenced documents.
- “Imperial boss linked to smuggling,” Globe and Mail, Feb. 1st, 2000. [no longer available]
- Tobacco giant turned blind eye to smuggling, Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 12th, 1999.
- « Les compagnies de tabac ont utilisé les commerçants pour faire baisser les taxes », La Presse, Dec. 1st, 1999. Also discusses the Quebec Coalition for Fair Tobacco Taxation; not available on-line.
3. We have correspondence and memos from the files of U.S. tobacco giant Philip Morris with respect to the export of Rothmans, Benson & Hedges brands
- Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and the Smuggling of Cigarettes into Canada, and NSRA files on the potential smuggling liability of Rothmans Inc., Jan. 17th, 2000, including links to several news articles.
- Smokes tax law targeted: Cigarette-firm executives discussed overseas tax dodge, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 18, 2000, discusses a contingency plan to move production out of Canada to beat a proposed export tax on Canadian cigarettes. [no longer available]
- Bad publicity tars Rothmans BAT’s stake in Toronto; tobacco firm a hard sell as news of lawsuits, smuggling in the industry burns up value, Globe and Mail, Feb. 2nd, 2000. [no longer available]
- BAT bracing for low price on Rothmans stake, Globe and Mail, Feb. 4th, 2000. [no longer available]
- Rothmans Inc. press release announcing price of $80.10 per share, Canada Newswire, Feb. 4th, 2000.
4. Industry documents and media reports detail how the Canadian tobacco industry set out to bully governments into lowering taxes
- The Boston Tea Party Project, and the Quebec Coalition for Fair Taxation (includes links to media articles and industry documents)
5. We are starting to understand how investigations into cigarette smuggling got off track
- Cigarette-smuggling fight was bungled, secret report says, Globe and Mail, March 25th, 2000. A Customs Canada report concludes that enforcement agencies should have put more energy into investigating cigarette manufacturers, instead of concentrating on low-level smugglers. (More from the same report: Secret report links Mafia, gangs to smugglers, Globe and Mail, March 29th, 2000.) [no longer available]
6. The tobacco industry continues to use the threat of smuggling in attempts to delay a long-expected tax increase
- “Smoking costs could rise by up to $5 a carton
Tax increase anticipated: Tobacco industry fears it will prompt a wave of smuggling”, National Post, Sept. 16th, 2000. [no longer available]
7. Some arrests have been made relatively far down the smuggling distribution chain
- Mohawks get hefty cigarette-smuggling fines, Montreal Gazette, Oct. 28th, 2000.