Brazil confirms EU countries are importing fraudulent Amazon timber

Ongoing illegal shipments exposed by Greenpeace investigation

Press release - June 9, 2015
Brussels - Greenpeace today exposed twenty-two sawmills and 45 exporters involved in the use of false documents for exports of illegal timber to Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom amongst other markets [1].

Brazilian authorities confirmed that logging company Santa Efigenia fraudulently obtained a logging permit, which was used to produce official paperwork to enable the trade of 43,000 m3 of tropical timber. This included 12,000 m3 of ipê, the most valuable Brazilian tropical timber, estimated to be worth at least €6 million if processed and exported.

Despite Greenpeace’s revelations last October [2], some EU operators continued to source timber carrying documentation from Santa Efigenia, even after Greenpeace alerted the authorities on the suspicious fraud scheme around that logging company and estate, and the sawmills trading with their paperwork.

EU importers have been reluctant to put in place ‘due diligence’ systems to identify and mitigate the risk of trading illegal timber, as required by EU law [3]. National authorities in the EU have also been slow to investigate suspicious shipments and apply sanctions.

Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace senior forest campaigner said: “Companies should not take official documents from countries where illegal logging is widespread and controls are open to fraud and abuse at face value. If you are trading tropical timber in the EU, you should either take the necessary steps to eliminate the risk of it being illegal, or otherwise stop importing it. Greenpeace calls on national authorities to investigate the European companies we have identified in this crime file and sanction those that broke the law.”

The timber industry in Brazil continues to operate outside the law [4], and so far European authorities in importing countries have failed to implement and enforce EU and international regulations, letting the global illegal timber trade run unabated.

Notes to editors:

[1] Greenpeace Brazil, June 2015: Licence to launder.

[2] In October 2014, Greenpeace exposed Brazilian company Agropecuaria Santa Efigenia Ltda in a broader investigation, which, through the use of GPS trackers, caught a network of sawmills red-handed. The company was granted an official logging permit although it had declared implausibly high levels of valuable timber in its forest management area. Greenpeace Brazil, October 2014: Night terrors.

[3] The European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which entered into force in March 2013, prohibits illegally harvested timber and timber products from being placed on the European market. Timber traders are required to act to minimise the risk of illegal timber from entering their supply chains. 

[4] In May 2014, Greenpeace revealed how loggers in the Brazilian Amazon exploit weaknesses in the country’s regulatory system to launder illegally logged timber for the global market. Greenpeace Brazil, May 2014: The Amazon Silent Crisis.


Daniela Montalto – Greenpeace senior forest campaigner: +44 743 698 9883 (mobile),

Greenpeace EU press desk+32 (0)2 274 1911

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