Organized crime prosecutors are conducting searches at the Schweighofer Holzindustrie factories in Radauti and Sebes in a file related to the illegal timber trade, with the financial loss being estimated at EUR 25 million.
Searches are also conducted at Park Departments and Forestry Guards.
23 searches are under way in Alba, Suceava, Hunedoara, Braşov, Bihor and Bucharest. Investigators from DIICOT claim that the financial loss, which has been caused by the illegal timber purchase or whose illegal origin was concealed through supporting documents that were not real, mounts to EUR 25 million.
”There are 23 searches conducted at the HQs and places of business of a private company, at 4 institutions and several private residences. 10 people have been taken to the prosecutor office until now. Investigations pointed out that people in the management of this company would have coordinated round coniferous timber purchases, originating from illegal woodcutting, since 2011 until now, and would have embezzled public tenders. The purchases would have come from a lot of suppliers from most wooded areas of Romania,” the Police said, adding that the timber delivered by these suppliers would have originated from illegal woodcutting in most of the cases.
In its turn, DIICOT announced that some economic operators had been removed from the timber public tenders and some others had been imposed. Investigations point that part of the received timber was not supported by accounting documents.
DIICOT also said that the members of this organized crime group had benefited of the support of some public servants.
Schweighofer Holzindustrie: We haven’t been notified over the purpose of the investigation
Schweighofer Holzindustrie retorted to the DIICOT searches, saying in a press release that it will give the authorities all the necessary information that investigators need, adding that the company hasn’t been notified over the purpose of the investigation.
„The fundamental principle of the company is to always observe the law and the legislation in force in the countries where it operates. The company will provide the authorities will all the necessary information for the smooth running of the ongoing investigation and supports authorities by all its means for a fair conclusion of the investigation, based on transparent data. The company has not been notified over the purpose of this investigation,” reads a company’s press release.
At the same time, Schweighofer Holzindustrie mentions that the company had implemented a plan to counter the illegal woodcutting as of early this year.
„The company has invested EUR 1 million in strengthening its supply chain trough actions that go far beyond the legal requirements and the regulations in force in Romania. One year after enforcing it, the company has made public the balance sheet of those actions,” the release further adds.
Austrian MEP: Had Schweighofer operated in Austria as it does in Romania, heavy files would have been opened
Had Schweighofer operated in Austria as it does in Romania, heavy legal files would have been opened, says the Austrian MEP Thomas Waitz, quoted by digi24.ro, after visiting one of the company’s processing plants. He admits that Holzindustrie Schweighofer cannot guarantee that the wood bought does not come from illegal logging.
“Only a small part of the logs bought is covered by the monitoring system. Lots of wood is taken over from the so-called forest depots, this is a hiatus of the system, as the legal procured logs can be mixed with the illegally acquired ones, and they can’t certificate that the wood is not taken over from illegal deforestations,” Waitz said.