A four-year investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) advocacy group traced illegally sourced timber from the forests of Congo Brazzaville and Gabon, to discover what it says are extensive holdings by a Chinese firm linked to bribery, corruption, tax evasion and ecosystem destruction.
“According to evidence collected by EIA, the (Chinese) Group has continuously broken the most fundamental forest laws, has turned timber trade regulations upside-down, and has diverted millions in unpaid taxes from the governments of Gabon and the Republic of Congo,” the report said.
EIA said the company operated by Xu Gong De manages 1.5 million hectares of rain forest in the two nations, while logging with illegally obtained licenses and routinely overharvesting timber. EIA said there are several affiliated companies involved in the harvest, transport, processing and export of timber, including Sino Congo Forêt (SICOFOR) and Congo Dejia Wood Industry (CDWI) in the Republic of Congo, and Société de Sciage de Moanda (SSMO) and Société des Bois de Mounana (SBM) in Gabon.
Nor is this by any means the only offender. “Forest crimes covered by high-level corruption are systemic and tightly linked to the inner workings of industrial logging in both Gabon and the Republic of Congo, countries that together account for more than half of the area allocated to logging concessions in the Congo Basin,” the report said.
EIA says that Asian companies, primarily from China, allegedly control more than 2.5 million hectares spanning Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Gabon and Congo Brazzaville.
The complete report is available at this link.
Image: Gabon ANPN