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March 27, 2019

EIA accuses German company of importing illegal teak from Myanmar

EIA accuses German company of importing illegal teak from Myanmar

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) submitted evidence to German and European enforcement authorities showing serious repeated violations of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) by a German company selling illegal Myanmar teak.

The complaint against Alfred Neumann Co. Ltd. is the 15th complaint of “illegally harvested timber being placed on the market in Europe” filed by EIA on the EUTR. Numerous authorities in Europe have previously found companies selling Myanmar teak in violation of the EUTR.

EIA’s forest campaigner Alec Dawson highlighted the fact that companies such as Alfred Neumann “connect the world’s most corrupt teak traders with the world’s most prestigious yacht-builders and clients, contributing to the [continuous] destruction of Myanmar’s teak forests.”

EIA has urged European leaders to have “tougher enforcement” of laws in the European market where illegal teak is found to be entering. The agency also advocates for timber operators “to undertake due diligence to minimize the risk” of supplying illegally acquired timber like that from Myanmar.

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EIA has raised complaints against 15 companies since 2015, namely Belotti SPA, Antonini Legnami, Timberlux Srl and Basso Legnami in Italy; Boogaerdt Wood, World Wood and Gold Teak Holdings in the Netherlands; Keflico in Denmark; Teak Solutions in Germany (transferred to Spain); Moody Decking, Stones Marine Timber, and Wattsons in the UK; Crown Teak and Vandercasteele Houtimport in Belgium; and Alfred Neumann in Germany.

Following the EIA complaints against these companies, one Dutch company, Boogaerdt Wood, was found in violation of the EUTR and threatened with fines. Denmark also issued an injunction to prevent placements of Myanmar teak on the market there and Germany has been turning back some shipments of Myanmar teak before they can be placed on the market.

Dawson added that despites these actions, no due diligence system for Myanmar teak meets the requirements of the EUTR, which are the responsibility of European government authorities.

“Myanmar teak has still been entering the European market and it appears companies are trying to test the will and resources of enforcement agencies, for example by routing shipments of wood through third countries to avoid liability. This means we still need to see better coordination and consistency in enforcement of the EUTR,” said Alec Dawson.

EIA said their evidence underpins EIA’s concerns that “multiple shipments of Myanmar teak for the company Alfred Neumann GmbH (Co. Ltd.) since 2013 were purchased from the businesses of corrupt Thailand-based teak kingpin Cheng Pui Chee, aka Chetta Apipatana.”

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