Canada tobacco firms admit aiding smugglers: police

Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:28am EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Two major Canadian tobacco firms admitted on Thursday they had aided smugglers and have paid fines totaling C$300 million ($294 million), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

A police statement said the two firms were Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd -- a unit of British American Tobacco (BATS.L: Quote) -- and Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc, a unit of Altria Group Inc. (MO.N: Quote) and Rothmans Inc ROC.TO.

Both firms admitted in court to "aiding persons to sell and be in possession of tobacco manufactured in Canada that was not packed and was not stamped in conformity with the Excise Act and its amendments and ministerial regulations."

The statement said Imperial Tobacco had paid a C$200 million fine and Benson and Hedges had paid a C$100 million fine.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)