On 22 June, OCCRP reported on an “ingenious” plan to smuggle tons of Chinese-made cigarettes into Europe and sell them on the black market. It is said that the case provides the first public evidence that China Tobacco officials have engaged in cigarette smuggling, and links their operation to criminal groups active in Europe. The article refers to a network involving a factory in Romania which manufactures some of Europe’s most popular illicit brands, and has supplied companies tied to smugglers in a number of countries, including Italy, owned by China Tobacco International Europe Company (CTIEC). It is said that not long after the factory opened, local media began featuring reports that its cigarettes were being moved by organised crime groups active along the country’s borders with Ukraine and Moldova. Chinese high-end brands Marble and Regina have reportedly the leading brands in illegal markets across Europe between 2012 and 2016, according to KPMG, and by 2016, half of all seized black market cigarettes were Reginas.
INVESTIGATION: HUGE QUANTITIES OF CHINESE CIGARETTES SMUGGLED INTO UKRAINE
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