OM demands fines and community service against two companies and their directors for illegally importing wood from Myanmar | News report

News item | 13-10-2022 | 09:03

The Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) accuses three de facto managers of the companies DMPT, Mercura and Fairwind, aged from 56 to 67, of marketing high-quality teak wood and thus violating the European timber regulation. The public prosecutor’s office is also prosecuting two (DMPT and Mercura) of the three companies for this matter. According to the prosecutor’s office, the companies and suspects did not comply with the necessary due diligence principles to prevent illegally felled wood from entering the market. In total, more than 178,2517 cubic meters of teak wood with a value of more than 2.5 million was imported. On Wednesday, October 12, the prosecution demanded a fine of 100,000 euros in Amsterdam, of which 50,000 euros were conditional against the companies involved and a community service of 240 hours against the suspects.

Earlier warning

Earlier, in 2018, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) imposed a cease and desist order on one of the companies because it did not meet due diligence requirements. Due to the political situation in Myanmar, it is virtually impossible to comply with this rehousing principle when importing teak wood from this country. This is the opinion of the expert group, an expert group that advises the European Commission on policy.

The working methods of the companies involved

To evade Dutch supervision, the companies and de facto managers, according to the prosecution, imported the teak into the European Union (EU) via a company set up specifically for this purpose in the Czech Republic. In total, it concerns 7 lots of imported teak wood. The company DMPT BV traveled to Myanmar to select the teak planks to be transported to Europe, and the company Mercura Trade & Services Europe BV took care of the transport. The third company involved, Fairwind Trading s.r.o., acted as an administrative front to circumvent the supervision of the NVWA, it is suspected. It emerged during the hearing that the suspects had set up this construction to enable the import of teak wood from Myanmar due to the specific qualities of this wood. This wood is ideally suited and sought after in high quality yacht building due to the wood’s specific qualities. These actions took place in the period from January 2018 to December 3, 2019.

Illegal logging threatens biodiversity and undermines sustainable forest management

From the prosecutor’s statement: “Forests provide a wide range of ecological, economic and social benefits essential to humanity, such as maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem functions and protecting the climate system. Due to the growing global demand for timber and the institutional and administrative deficiencies that characterize the forestry sector in a number of timber-producing countries, illegal logging and related trade are becoming increasingly alarming. Illegal logging is a very serious problem of great international importance. It poses a significant threat to forests as it contributes to deforestation and forest degradation, which are responsible for 20% of global CO2 emissions. Illegal logging threatens biodiversity and undermines sustainable forest management and development, including the commercial viability of operators operating under existing legislation. It also contributes to desertification and soil erosion and can exacerbate extreme weather events and floods. In addition, illegal logging also has social, political and economic consequences that often undermine the development of good governance, threaten communities that depend on the forest for their survival, and can be linked to armed conflict.”

The public prosecutor therefore assumes that a prison sentence of 6 months is an appropriate punishment, but chooses in this specific situation to require community service of 240 hours. The rectification of the claim in this case lies in the time the investigation has taken since the start of the investigation and the personal circumstances of all three suspects.

Combating illegal logging

In the coming years, the Public Prosecutor’s Office will focus more on investigating and prosecuting illegal timber from the perspective of tackling and fighting environmental crime. The starting point is to prevent deforestation and the resulting ever-increasing pressure on the environment. It plays a role in the prosecution’s consideration of intensifying the prosecution in the future.

The forests are at risk from illegal logging. Deforestation leads to climate problems and exploitation of local residents. Illegal timber trade also creates a system of subversive crime both in the countries where logging takes place and here. To counter this, timber traders must demonstrate that they have taken care when purchasing and importing the timber. This obligation follows from the European Timber Regulation. If they fail to do so, the government will act or they will be prosecuted.

About the European Timber Regulation

The European Timber Regulation has been in force since March 2013. Economic operators must provide guarantees for the legal origin of their products by applying a due diligence system. More information on this can be found here.

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