Italy Said to Back Plan to Sue U.S. Tobacco Firms
ROME (Reuters) - Italian Finance Minister Ottaviano Del Turco threw his weight behind a European Commission plan to sue a number of U.S. tobacco companies over alleged cigarette smuggling into the EU, the daily la Repubblica reported on Saturday.
But Del Turco told the newspaper Italy would take legal action only together with other EU countries. No one could be reached for comment at the Italian finance ministry.
``We will be on the front line, but not alone,'' Del Turco was quoted as saying, adding Italy was ready to act ``even legally to safeguard the national interest together with countries who want to make the same commitment.''
The European Union's executive commission said on Thursday it planned to sue the tobacco companies in U.S. courts but did not say where or when the alleged smuggling had taken place or give brands, company names or figures.
The commission said cigarette smuggling was the biggest single fraud against the $95 billion EU budget. It said tonnes of branded cigarettes were smuggled into the 15-nation bloc, costing billions of dollars over years in lost revenues.