Leaf Merchants: Alliance One and Universal Corp. accused of bribery..

August 14, 2010 - Alliance One International of Morrisville, NC and Universal Corporation of Richmond, VA are world leaf tobacco mechants and processors.

These American tobacco companies are paying nearly $30 million to settle charges (from the government's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Justice Department) that they bribed foreign officials to win lucrative overseas tobacco sales contracts.

Universal was accused of bribing officials in Thailand, Malawi and Mozambique. Alliance One was accused of bribing officials in Thailand, China, Greece, Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan.

The SEC said the companies together paid more than $5 million in bribes to government officials in Thailand and other countries in order to illicitly obtain tobacco sales contracts.

Thailand Tobacco Monopoly officials have been accused of accepting bribes of over US$1.93 million (62 million baht) from US-based companies to ensure Brazilian-grown tobacco was sold locally, says the US Justice Department. "The charges relate to bribes paid to Thai government officials to secure contracts with the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, a Thai government agency, for the sale of tobacco leaf," the Justice Department said.

References: Tobacco Companies Universal, Alliance One Settle Charges by NATHAN BECKER, The Wall Street Journal, 8/8/2010; Thai tobacco officials 'took B62m bribes' US JUSTICE DEPT LAYS CHARGES IN BRAZILIAN CIGARETTE SCAM, Bangkok Post, 8/8/2010.