EU files money laundering lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds in New York court
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union said Thursday it has filed another lawsuit in New York against tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, seeking compensation for alleged money laundering.
The EU already has an appeal pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The court in February dismissed its claim that Reynolds â€” the world's second largest tobacco maker â€” and rival Philip Morris sponsored cigarette smuggling in Europe.
In its statement Thursday, the EU executive commission said that ruling left open the possibility it could submit a new action based on money laundering charges.
The EU estimates several billion dollars in taxes are lost every year due to smuggling of cigarettes from Eastern Europe and the Middle East into the 15-nation bloc. It alleges American tobacco companies intentionally oversupply countries in eastern Europe and elsewhere so the surplus would be smuggled into the EU.
On Feb. 19, the court said the EU failed to show how American courts have any jurisdiction to hear European tax claims.
EU officials said at the time they considered widening the case based on new evidence they claim will prove the tobacco companies conspired to launder their profits.
The latest case was brought by the European Commission (news - web sites) and 10 EU member nations â€” Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg.
The EU Commission said it sought "relief to stop the laundering of proceeds of illegal activities and to seek compensation for losses sustained."
The commission said it would make no further comment on the content of its complaint.
Similar cases accusing tobacco companies of abetting smugglers brought by Canada and Columbia and an earlier case by the EU last year also have been rejected by U.S. courts.