Illegal trade exposed

| July 20, 2017

Philip Morris International has told the US Commission on Security and Co-operation that it has a ‘clear business imperative to combat the problem of the illegal tobacco trade’ and to ensure its products are sold legally in the market for which they are intended.

According to a note posted on PMI’s website, Marc Firestone, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel yesterday appeared as an invited witness before the commission to offer expert testimony in support of the commission’s objective of addressing the security and economic threats posed by the illegal trade in tobacco.

The commission is a bipartisan body of the US Congress with representation from the House of Representatives and Senate.

Firestone is said to have told the commission that the global illegal tobacco trade annually deprived governments of US$40-50 billion in lost tax revenue, a figure greater than that of the illegal trade in oil, wildlife, timber, arts and antiquities, and conflict minerals combined. He added that “criminals are the only promoters of the global illegal tobacco trade”.

“The revenues that governments and law-abiding manufacturers like PMI lose every year to the illicit trade in tobacco are huge,” Firestone said. “However, the threat posed to safety, security, and the rule of law in Europe, the United States and around the globe is where the interests of our company and the concerns of this commission most pointedly intersect.”

Firestone was said to have emphasized the critical role co-operation between industry, law enforcement, and government authorities could play in tackling illicit tobacco, and outlined a series of concrete measures that these groups could take to further reduce the flow of illicit tobacco worldwide.

With Firestone on the expert panel were Dr. Louise Shelley, founder and executive director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, and Professor David Sweanor, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and global tobacco control policy expert.

Firestone’s testimony is at: https://www.pmi.com/docs/default-source/pmi_media-center/pmi-testimony_final_17-july-2017.pdf.

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Category: Breaking News, Financial, Illicit trade, Tax

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