After dalliance with ISIS, Bulgartabac losses continue

Bulgarian tobacco giant Bulgartabac lost $9 million in 2016, as the company is still reeling from charges it was doing business with ISIS.

The company announced its 2016 results on Wed. March 1.

Last spring, the company, which is responsible for producing some of the country and region’s most popular cigarette brands, halted exports to the Middle East amidst suspicion it was selling cigarettes to ISIS.

The company has also drawn the ire of Turkish authorities and European anti-corruption officials, who claim its cigarettes account for a huge share of Turkey’s black market tobacco sales.

Smuggling of cigarettes into Turkey surged in 2010 after the country raised tobacco taxes.

A report in The National described how smugglers would bring Bulgartabac products—including the popular Victory, Prestige and MM brands—into Turkey through northern Iraq, Syria, and Iran. A Turkish government report on smuggling claimed more than half of the country’s $1 billion illegal cigarette market were Bulgartabac products. The report also detailed how hidden shipments of Bulgartabac’s cigarettes were smuggled through regions of Iraq controlled by the Marxist group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), shepherded by terrorist leaders.