Ukraine slams Bacardi as ‘war sponsor’ for continuing to sell drinks to Russia | World | News


Kyiv blacklisted the drinks giant which has boosted trade and profits despite promising to pull out over the invasion.

Officials at the National Agency on Corruption and Prevention claim Bacardi “assists in or ­contributes to the Russia’s war efforts” by paying a fortune in tax to Vladimir Putin.

The listing comes two months after this newspaper revealed claims that the Bermuda-owned firm with strong British links had broken its boycott promise.

Executives announced within weeks of Putin’s attack on his neighbour that they would “pause” imports and marketing investment in Russia.

But we were able to buy bottles of Dewar’s and William Lawson’s, two of Bacardi’s Scottish-distilled whisky brands, at shops in Moscow and Siberia.

The anti-corruption agency alleges that the company has also imported Bombay Sapphire, Oakheart rum, Patron tequila and Martini vermouth.

“Thus, Bacardi Limited continues to pay taxes to the Russian budget, support its economy and sponsor aggression against Ukraine,” it added.

The investigators – led by senior lawyer Oleksandr Novikov – allege that the company has a Russian ­division, Bacardi Rus, which has flourished since the invasion 18 months ago.

The Russian Federal Tax Service says the Russian operation still employs 350 people and in 2022, increased annual turnover 8.5% to £250million.

During the same 12 months, net profits more than doubled to £36million and the company imported goods worth £133million. The agency – whose reports are submitted to President Volodymyr Zelensky – says Bacardi also handed £9.5million in tax to Putin’s bureaucracy.

“After the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Bacardi announced it would stop exporting to Russia and stop investing in advertising, but this part later disappeared from the company’s official statement. The company continued to supply its products to the Russian Federation for millions of dollars and to look for new employees by publishing job adverts.”

Mark Dixon, founder of business ethics group the Moral Rating Agency, renewed his call for a global boycott of Bacardi’s products.

He said: “Bacardi should be re-branded ‘Barracuda’. It is a greedy and voracious company.

Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency is right to name it an international war sponsor because the company is indeed supporting the economy that pays for the invasion of Ukraine.

“Its immorality is not limited to making money from Russia and supporting the country. It is also engaged in spinning its behaviour.”

Bacardi, which has offices in London and Glasgow, was among the first companies to support Ukraine after Putin ordered his forces to go in.

The company – which boasts of “doing the right thing by both people and planet” – announced its boycott of Russia and a £800,000 donation to Ukrainian aid projects.

Its Irish Whiskey Teeling also brought out a special edition ­entitled “United We Stand”, which sold out with all profits going to charities for the invaded country.

Bacardi said: “Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our people, especially those directly affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine. We are supporting our people in Ukraine with resources and services necessary during this time of great need.”

But in June, we bought Dewar’s and William Lawson’s at stores in Moscow and the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, with bottling dates as recent as March. The firm’s website had also removed any reference to the trading pause announced shortly after the invasion.

Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency believe the company has flourished because many competitors have stopped trading in Russia.

Research by Yale University suggests about 1,000 companies have ceased sales within Putin’s borders in the last 18 months.

Drinks companies which pulled out included Diageo, which markets Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness, and Pernod Ricard.

Pernod, which described itself as “deeply shocked and saddened” by the war faced a backlash in April when it admitted resuming sales to Russia. It said the decisions to restock supplies of Beefeater gin and Jameson whiskey, “were not taken lightly”.

Many companies joined the ­boycott voluntarily, even though the Government has banned only the export of military or strategic products to Russia. The Daily Express contacted Bacardi’s communications director for comment.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here