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NY federal appeals court restores European Union racketeering lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit by the European Union alleging that U.S. tobacco company R.J. Reynolds sponsored cigarette smuggling in Europe.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City ruled Wednesday that the European Union and 26 of its member states were within their rights to sue in U.S. courts.

The lawsuit alleges that RJR directed, managed and controlled a global money-laundering scheme with organized crime groups. It said the company laundered money through New York-based financial institutions.

The lawsuit had been tossed out by a Brooklyn judge. But the appeals court says a racketeering law can apply to a foreign enterprise or conduct outside the U.S.

Lawyers did not immediately return messages for comment.

Reynolds American Inc. is based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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