EU launches lawsuit against Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds
November 6, 2000
The European Union has filed a civil suit against two large U.S.-based tobacco companies, Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, alleging the tobacco industry was involved in smuggling cigarettes into the EU.
Like the Canadian suit against R.J. Reynolds (and others), filed in December 1999, the EU suit is being made under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Both were filed in New York State, though in different judicial districts.
R.J. Reynolds used to be sole owner of Canada’s RJR-Macdonald, makers of Export ‘A’. Internationally, it is best known for the Camel brand. However, last year the company sold off all its international interests to Japan Tobacco, and RJR-Macdonald was re-named JTI-Macdonald. Japan Tobacco is also named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit.
Philip Morris is the world’s largest tobacco company outside of China, and is best known for its Marlboro brand. Canada is one of the few markets in the world where Marlboro is not available, for trademark reasons. However, Philip Morris is present in Canada through its 40% share in Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, this country’s second-largest cigarette manufacturer.
- Statement of Claim: European Community -v- RJR Nabisco et al
- Statement by EU Commissioner Michaele Schreyer (Nov. 6th, 2000)
- Philip Morris, Reynolds Accused (AP, Nov. 6th, 2000)
- EU sues tobacco giants (BBC News, Nov. 6th, 2000)
- Brussels sues US tobacco groups in crackdown (Financial Times, Nov. 6th, 2000)
- Tobacco firms sued over EU smuggling(Guardian, Nov. 7th, 2000)
- Germany mulls joining E.U.suit against tobacco giants(Handelsblatt, Nov. 8th, 2000)
- Tabakmultis sind schwer kriminell [“Tobacco multinationals are highly criminal”], Der Spiegel, Nov. 10th, 2000 [on-line edition]. Germany’s most important news weekly provides extensive coverage of details of the EU statement of claim. The beginning of the article, in rough translation:
The EU Commission is suing the world’s largest tobacco companies. Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds are allegedly involved in drug deals, money laundering and cigarette smuggling, according to the statement of claim, which SPIEGEL ONLINE has obtained. The companies face billion-dollar penalties.
(Brussels) — What do managers of tobacco company R.J. Reynolds (“Camel”, “Winston”) have to do with Columbian drug dealers? Quite a lot, according to the EU Commission’s statement of claim against the two U.S. tobacco companies Philip Morris (“Marlboro”, “Benson & Hedges”) and RJR, that was filed last Friday in New York. In the 188-page document, lawyers from Fort Lauderdale, New York, Madrid and New Orleans, retained by the EU Commission, have compiled a list of sins by the tobacco companies that reveals a new dimension in economic crime in the Western world…
- Schlag gegen Big Tobacco [Blow against big tobacco], Der Spiegel [print edition], Nov. 13th, 2000. An equally hard-hitting article, from other reporters. Includes interesting background on smuggling developments in Switzerland.
- Case against tobacco industry like crime thriller, Irish Times, Nov. 14th, 2000. Ireland’s upmarket daily reports on Der Spiegel‘s report on the EU lawsuit.