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Parliamentary questions
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31 October 2012
Question for written answer E-009948-12
to the Commission
Rule 117
Ingeborg Gräßle (PPE)

 Subject:  OLAF investigation of Japanese Tobacco Inc — smuggling accusations
 Answer in writing 

A subsidiary of Japanese Tobacco Inc (JTI) has been accused of smuggling cigarettes from Cyprus into Syria. 450 000 cartons of cigarettes were allegedly sold to a black-listed associate of Maher al-Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is suspected that these cigarettes are either being used to pay military salaries or being sold at a higher price, thereby generating profit used to fund al-Assad’s regime. OLAF is currently investigating these allegations.

1. What is the total value associated with these smuggled cigarettes?

2. Since the case involves the export of goods, is the breach of an embargo a crime for which OLAF is competent? If so, what is the exact legal qualification of the facts that OLAF is investigating?

3. What is the amount under investigation? Has the alleged illegal amount, as reported in the press, been confirmed?

4. How much revenue has the EU lost as a result of this smuggling?

5. When does OLAF expect the Cypriot national judicial authorities to give a final judgment on this case?

6. How does the Commission intend to seek cooperation with the Cypriot authorities? What contact has there been between the European External Action Service and OLAF in relation to the investigation of this case?

7. Usually tobacco smuggling cases involve contraband being smuggled into a Member State. Are there other precedents involving cases in which tobacco was smuggled out of a Member State?

8. Since JTI is involved in the case, does the Commission consider it to involve a violation of Article 5(9)(h) of the cooperation agreement signed between JTI and the Commission in 2007? If so, what impact will this have on the relationship between the Commission and JTI in the future?

 OJ C 310 E, 25/10/2013
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