In June, Greenpeace published a first report describing the
bribery schemes of the company's African business associates.
Acting on a complaint filed by Greenpeace the Office of the
Attorney General has started investigating the charges against
Interholco, a subsidiary of Danzer Group.
Speaking at the press conference, Christoph Stückelberger of
Transparency International was very clear in his condemnation of
bribery: "Corruption is not only a problem of developing
The problem has two faces. We urge Switzerland to be hard and
fast in enforcing anti-corruption provisions, as agreed within the
The latest Crime File reveals that Interholco bought logs from
the Liberian Oriental Timber Company (OTC), run by Dutchman Gus
Kouwenhoven, despite assurances issued by the Group that it does
not deal with companies involved in arms trafficking. The UN
Security Council (UNSC) regards Kouwenhoven as a key figure in the
logistics of illegal arms movements to Liberia during the reign of
warlord Charles Taylor. The report also shows how Interholco has
maintained trading ties with
Kouwenhoven, who has been operating another timber business out
of Congo Brazzaville. Another Liberian partner of the Danzer Group,
the Inland Logging Company, has recently been accused of tax fraud
by the Liberian authorities.
The report also illustrates examples how Danzer Group employees
appear to have forged copies of Phyto-sanitary Certificates for
timber exports from a number of African countries, including
Liberia, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. With the help of a pair of
scissors, white tape and a colour photocopier, enabling official
signatures to be cut and pasted, certificates are hard to
distinguish from the official ones, normally issued by the federal
authorities or Chamber of Commerce of the respective export
countries. Copies of the documents have been supplied to the
Attorney General for further investigation.
"Almost without exception, European companies like the Danzer
Group have knowingly chosen to continue laundering timber from
illegal and destructive sources, often from countries governed by
corrupt regimes where rogue logging companies operate unhindered,"
said Greenpeace Africa- specialist Illanga Itoua. "The European
Union must urgently criminalise these activities under money
laundering legislation. How much longer are we going to stand by as
unscrupulous European businesses exploit the misery of the local
population in Liberia and the Congo basin?"
Greenpeace campaigns both in consumer countries and at the
frontiers of ancient forest destruction. We work with local forest
communities to expose illegal logging of their traditional lands by
international timber companies.