Dubai ambassador to London organised smuggling of BAT cigarettes – documents show

Monday 17 December 2001

17th December 2001 – immediate

Dubai ambassador to London organised smuggling of BAT cigarettes

Confidential British American Tobacco documents released today reveal that the United Arab Emirates ambassador to London has run a smuggling operation for British American Tobacco [1]


1n 1991, Easa Saleh Al-Gurg was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British business and became Dubai’s ambassador to the UK – yet he was a key lynchpin in BAT’s global smuggling enterprise [2]He is now the ‘doyenne’ of Middle East ambassadors in London.


The documents show the Easa Saleh Al-Gurgran a trading company that supplied the ‘transit trade’ to Somalia and other countries.  Numerous documents clarify that ‘transit’ is a euphemism for smuggling. Transit cigarettes are diverted illegally onto the black market of a country they are supposed to be passing through. In one document [3] BAT executives agree their approach to Jordan and Somalia implicating Al-Gurg in illegal activity (Kental is a notorious Cyprus-based trader)

Jordan – opportunities for legal imports need to be fully investigated before we seek transit opportunities.

“In future transit to Sudan will be supplied via Kental and Somalia via Easa Gurg.”


The documents also reveal BAT’s tight control over this trade – with their system of permission and restrictions,penalties and sanctions for stepping out of line.  BAT tells its traders where they can sell, where they must not sell and at what price.


Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:


“If he can’t be taken to court here, he should at least be expelled from Britain and have his CBE taken away.  How did the Queen ever end up giving a top honour to someone trafficking illegal cigarettes into Somalia? They need to go back to the Dubai embassy and BAT and find out how the recommendation was made”


ASH said it would forward relevant documents to the Department of Trade and Industry, which is investigating BAT over smuggling.


“If the DTI look at these papers properly alongside the hundreds of documents they already have, they can only conclude that BAT was treating smuggling like a normal distribution channel and using people like Easa Saleh Al Gurg as middlemen to keep the smugglers at arms length while keep iron-grip on the black market.”


These papers very clearly show the modus operandi of the global tobacco smuggling trade – BAT has agents that control the smugglers, but BAT has overall control.  BAT is the Mr. Big in this loathsome sleazy trade.  Not content with killing people for legal gain, they are so greedy they are prepared to orchestrate mass law-breaking.


Contact: Clive Bates +44 (0) 20 7739 5902(office) + 44 (0) 77 6879 1237 (mobile) ISDN available

Dubai diplomat accused of smuggling BAT cigarettes

[3] Minutes of transit meeting held on 16th March 1987 – Bates view document (PDF – 350K)