Sugar released by The Diet Everyone Talks About. Supplied to Verve, The Star.

London - An international charity accused Associated British Foods (ABF), the multinational behind brands such as Silver Spoon sugar and Twinings tea, of avoiding tax in Zambia.

ABF denied allegations by ActionAid on Sunday, which said that ABF’s Zambian sugar-producing subsidiary had made profits of £77.8 million (more than R1 billion) in Zambia since 2007 but paid virtually no corporation tax.

ActionAid said in a report that Zambia Sugar had also used the tax system to legally move £52.9m out of the country to tax havens including Ireland, Mauritius and the Netherlands.

“Tax avoidance by Associated British Foods in Zambia is helping to keep people locked in hunger,” said Chris Jordan, one of the authors of the ActionAid report, which followed a year-long investigation.

In a statement, ABF said its Zambian unit “denies emphatically that it is engaged in anything illegal, immoral or in any way designed to reduce the tax rightly payable to the Zambian government”.

“We are very proud of Zambia Sugar and the major contribution that it makes to the Zambian economy,” it added.

It said ActionAid’s report was a “highly inflammatory account of the company’s tax position that is incomplete at best and factually wrong in places”.

A series of global companies has been hit by mounting public anger in Britain at alleged tax avoidance by firms such as Starbucks, online retailer Amazon and Google. – Sapa-AFP