UK tobacco firm British American Tobacco (BAT) says it is under official investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over allegations it paid bribes in East Africa.
The allegations were first made in a BBC Panorama programme in 2015.
BAT said that it had been investigating the claims through external legal advisers and it had been co-operating with the SFO.
The firm said it also intended to co-operate with this formal investigation.
Paul Hopkins, who worked for BAT, a British company, in Kenya for 13 years, told Panorama he had begun paying bribes after being told it was the cost of doing business in Africa.
The payments were aimed at influencing laws surrounding the use of tobacco in the region.
The SFO confirmed it was “investigating suspicions of corruption in the conduct of business by BAT plc, its subsidiaries and associated persons”.
It asked those with “information relevant to this investigation, please contact the SFO through its secure and confidential reporting channel”.