More proof of illegal Burmese teak, says EIA

The EIA says it has unearthed more evidence of Myanmar's illegal teak trade Photo: EIA The EIA says it has unearthed more evidence of Myanmar's illegal teak trade Photo: EIA

Evidence of serious repeated violations of the European Union Timber Regulation by a teak trader has been submitted to authorities.

Ongoing research by the Environment Investigation Agency has found shipments of Myanmar teak since 2013 for the company Alfred Neumann were purchased from the businesses of corrupt Thailand-based ‘teak kingpin’, Cheng Pui Chee, aka Chetta Apipatana.

Alec Dawson, EIA forests campaigner, stressed the agency’s concerns. “EIA believes Alfred Neumann has been violating the EUTR since 2013, placing multiple shipments of Myanmar teak on the EU market which were procured from a trader involved in corruption and fraud in securing supplies,” he said.

Corrupt

The EUTR bans illegally harvested timber from Europe and also requires operators to minimise the risks that they are supplying illegally acquired timber. Placements of Myanmar teak have previously been found in violation of the EUTR by numerous authorities in Europe.

EIA’s EUTR submission details how Alfred Neumann began buying from Cheng Pui Chee through his principle business partner Koh Seow Bean, based in Singapore and Malaysia. Inducements and kick-backs reportedly include payments made to Myanmar’s top generals, funding the private education of senior military officials’ children and the lifestyles of senior forestry officials and even the gift of exotic animals to Naypidaw zoo.

Smuggled

EIA’s complaint also details how another supplier in China claimed its teak is illegally logged in Myanmar and smuggled to China and that a planned shipment for Alfred Neumann would have paperwork added in Malaysia to enable passage to Europe despite the EUTR.

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