British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International face South Korea probe over alleged tax evasion

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The cigarette makers are being investigated in South Korea (Source: Getty)

Big Four cigarette makers British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) are being investigated by South Korea’s tax authority over alleged tax evasion.

South Korea’s National Tax Service has launched the probe over claims the tobacco firms evaded taxes on profits from a tobacco price hike last year, reported the Korea Times.

The price of a pack of 20 cigarettes rose by about 2,000 won (£1.36) last January in a government bid to lower the country’s smoking rate. South Korea is aiming to bring down the smoking rate for adult men to 29 per cent by 2020, though it stood at 44 per cent before the price increased was introduced.

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“BAT Korea Manufacturing has always been stringent in paying the required taxes and we are cooperating fully with the investigation,” a BAT Korea Manufacturing spokesperson said.

BAT's share price closed down 1.15 per cent today to 4,754.5p. 

PMI did not respond to a request to comment prior to publication.