Crack-down on illegal teak imports sees German company fined (With kind permission of Marine Industry News

A German company has been convicted and fined for evading sanctions on timber imported from Myanmar.

The Regional Court in Hamburg found WOB Timber had evaded the EU sanctions on 31 separate shipments of timber worth millions of euros from 2008-11, when the previous military junta –the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) – was sanctioned by the EU.

The judge ordered the company to pay a fine of €3.3m and sentenced director Stephan Bührich to a 21-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of €200,000 – and warned further cases would result in even harsher penalties.

The fine and suspended jail term constitute one of the largest penalties ever imposed on a timber trader in the EU. Many of the shipments involved timber being processed in Taiwan and declared as originating in Taiwan, rather than Myanmar, to avoid the reach of the sanctions.

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) exposed the role Taiwan plays in supplying Myanmar teak to the international markets in its 2019 report State of Corruption.

WOB Timber is also accused of exploiting regulatory loopholes to trade illicit timber more recently, as revealed in EIA’s 2020 report The Croatian Connection Exposed, when it used Croatian company Viator Pula to import timber into the EU to avoid the EU Timber Regulation’s due diligence requirements.

read the full article here  (Thanks to MIN to allow us the publishing)