Reynolds Tobacco sued over claims of laundering drug money

Reynolds American, maker of Camel cigarettes, can be sued by the European Union on claims the tobacco company orchestrated a worldwide scheme to launder drug money, a federal appeals court ruled in reviving a suit filed more than a decade ago.

The EU can use U.S. racketeering law to sue Reynolds American, a three-judge panel of the court in Manhattan ruled today, reversing a lower-court judge’s decision to dismiss the suit. The lawsuit was originally filed by the European Community, which was legally replaced by the EU in 2009…

The EC claims Reynolds American directed a scheme in which Colombian and Russian criminal organizations laundered drug profits through European money brokers. The brokers sold discounted euros obtained from the drug sales to cigarette importers, who then purchased Reynolds American cigarettes from wholesalers, according to the complaint.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis…dismissed the claims because the alleged money laundering took place outside the U.S. He also ruled that the EC’s presence in the suit deprived the court of jurisdiction.

Golly, are we to believe an industry so respected and concerned with the well-being of folks around the world would participate in criminal activity that benefited drug cartels as well as lining their own pockets?

Wait. Let me get my rubber boots on before we hear from corporate tobacco lovers.

Oh, the photo? John Wayne died from lung cancer.

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