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Ukraine labels Bacardi ‘international war sponsor’

Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency has added Bacardi to its list of international war sponsors after it continued to operate in Russia.

Bacardi rum range
The NACP alleges that Bacardi continues to supply its products in Russia

The National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) claimed that Bermuda-based Bacardi, known for its namesake rum, continues to do business in Russia and is ‘actively’ hiring workers in the market.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bacardi donated US$1 million to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Furthermore, it suspended exports and froze advertising investments in Russia, the firm said in a statement in March 2022.

However, the NACP alleges that Bacardi has removed the latter part of this statement. There is now no mention of the export suspension and advertisement freeze in the statement currently on the company’s website.

The NACP said: “Therefore, the company continued to supply its products to the Russian Federation for millions of dollars and to look for new employees by publishing job advertisements.”

The Spirits Business found at least five jobs advertised by Bacardi Rus, the firm’s Russian division, over the past month.

The agency said the exit of global brand owners from the country’s alcohol market has “reduced competition and created opportunities for those who remained”.

Data from the Federal Tax Service of Russia cited by the NACP said the revenue of Bacardi Rus increased by 8.5% to 32.6 billion rubles (US$331.5m) in 2022. Net profit rose to 4.7bn rubles (US$48,847) – 206.5% more than in 2021 when it reached 1.5bn rubles (US$15,270).

The NACP alleges that Bacardi’s Russian arm imported goods worth US$169m during the first year of the war in Ukraine. Income tax paid by Bacardi to the Russian government amounted to more than US$12m, the NACP claimed.

The agency said Bacardi “continues to pay significant taxes to the budget of Russia, support its economy and sponsor aggression against Ukraine”.

There are no legal consequences for being on the NACP’s international war sponsors list. The agency said it was reputational only and that the global community could ‘act as the judge, jury and executioner’.

Bacardi is yet to respond to a request for comment.

Bacardi’s products are sold in more than 170 countries. The firm’s portfolio also includes Bombay Sapphire gin, Cazadores Tequila, Eristoff vodka, Dewar’s Scotch whisky and Angel’s Envy whiskey, among others.

Smirnoff maker Diageo closed its Russian operations last year and Pernod Ricard stopped all exports of its international brands to the market at the end of April 2023.

Jameson producer Pernod Ricard said it would end distribution of its entire portfolio in the country, a move that would take a number of months to complete.

Brown-Forman and Edrington also suspended sales in the market in March 2022.

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