Greenpeace reveals bribery at Danzer Group

Feature story - 29 June, 2004
We knew they were dodgy, and now we have proof of just HOW dodgy ... today Greenpeace published an investigation into Swiss/German logging company The Danzer Group, which shows hard evidence of illegal logging, bribery and the defrauding of developing countries.

Don't try and buy me out of MY forest!

The evidence we obtained includes a memo written by one of the executive directors of The Danzer Group who states that "If there is any threat of a fine, so called conditioned cases, he is, however prepared to take care of this by giving a gift". We guess he's not talking about a nice pen and letter-opener set.

The Danzer Group has got itself into even more trouble by teaming up with Cameroonian company Mba Mba Georges (MMG). Further juicy documents from Danzer indicate that MMG has been logging illegally inside their own logging area.

"Illegal logging is not only destroying Africa's rainforest and wiping out precious wildlife habitat, but companies involved in this activity also appear to be defrauding developing nations and local communities out of millions of dollars through the systematic bribery of public officials," said Gavin Edwards of Greenpeace International.

The sad thing is that you don't really have much choice about whether or not The Danzer Group makes profits on all of this corruption ... they currently sell African rainforest timber throughout Europe, with some suspected illegal wood being found in bridge construction projects by local governments, including in France and the Netherlands.

Customs officers can't act to stop the import of illegal forest products into Europe, because there is no EU legislation in place as yet to stop this illicit trade.

"This problem needs more than discussion and study, it needs swift action," said Sebastien Risso, of Greenpeace EU Unit.

"This means stronger monitoring and law enforcement in African countries, EU legislation to prevent illegal wood imports, and the prosecution of these crooks under existing bribery laws," he added.

80 percent of the world's ancient forests have already been degraded or destroyed, and only 20 percent remain intact. The rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Gabon are quickly being logged and turned into forest products for the European market.

Governments worldwide are simply failing to protect ancient forests from illegal and destructive logging.

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