Swedish importer fails EUTR – fined for teak imports

A Swedish court has fined a Sedish importer for failing to satisfy the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). This court decision is the first in Sweden to apply the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). The court said the company that imported the teak via a Singapore trader had violated this regulation as it was unable to provide sufficient evidence that it had met the due diligence requirements of the EUTR. The company in question was fined 17,000 Swedish kronor (US$1,700). Apparently the company has informed Sweden’s EUTR regulator that it will no longer source wood from Myanmar. The court’s verdict follows nearly a year of injunctions from Swedish authorities and an appeal by the company.

Teak exports from Myanmar in breach of European Union rules

Following an investigation from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) into the placement of Burmese teak from Myanmar onto the European Union (EU) market, EIA has submitted legal complaints to authorities in five countries regarding violations of the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) by nine companies. EIA believes these companies have failed to ensure that illegally logged wood has not entered their supply streams, putting customers at risk of purchasing illegal timber. EIA has identified several shipments of Burmese teak, including teak destined for sailing yacht ‘A’. Sailing yacht ‘A’ is currently being built in Germany for Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko at a cost of £260 million; at 100m tall and nearly 150m long, it is the largest sailing yacht ever built.

The companies involved, which include the largest teak dealers in the EU, are:
  • Antonini Legnami, Basso Legnami and Bellotti Spa, which have placed Burmese teak on the market in Italy;
  • Royal Boogaerdt Wood, Gold Teak Holdings and World Wood, which have placed Burmese teak on the market in the Netherlands;
  • Crown Teak, which has placed Burmese teak on the market in Belgium;
  • Keflico, which has placed Burmese teak on the market in Denmark;
  • Teak Solutions, which has placed Burmese teak on the market in Germany.

EIA’s previous investigations into illegal logging in Myanmar clearly demonstrate a high risk of illegality, exacerbated by the total lack of any verification of legality upstream of the point of sale by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), the body through which all timber in the country must be sold. “In simple terms, no teak from Myanmar can legally be placed on the EU market due to the high risk of illegality associated with timber from that country and the lack of transparency by its Government to allow access to information that might demonstrate compliance,” added Cooper. EIA is urging European national authorities to uphold their EUTR enforcement obligations against all shipments by all of the companies since the EUTR’s entry into legal force in March 2013 and further calls on the European Commission to ensure they do so.

Controversy in Dutch timberbusiness

Royal Boogaerdt Wood, one of the companies mentioned in Environmental Investigation Agency report "Overdue Diligence: Teak exports from Myanmar in breach of European rules" received earlier this year a € 15,000.00 cheque from the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) for Boogaerdt Wood's sustainable activities in Myanmar.
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Royal Boogaerdt Wood CEO C. Boogaerdt (m) receiving a €15,000.00 cheque from STTC (r)in presence and André de Boer (l), representating the European Timber Trade Federation. Photo: Houtwereld
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Article: Environmental Investigation Agency
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