Posted on 05 June 2018
For years the company has been suspected of being associated with the local wood-mafia
Vienna - On 30 May the Romanian anti-mafia prosecutor DIICOT searched the headquarters of the Romanian subsidiary of the Austrian company Holzindustrie Schweighofer. For years the company has been suspected of being associated with the local wood-mafia and reselling illegally logged wood with forged documents of origin. The financial loss incurred so far has been estimated at approximately €25 million. According to media reports, six people have been indicted, including the heads of the Holzindustrie factories in Sebes and Radauti.
WWF expert Johannes Zahnen welcomed the investigation: "Environmental protection organizations, including WWF, have been exposing Schweighofer’s violations. They have accused the company of procuring wood illegally and from non-legal sources for years. We are pleased that the Romanian authorities are now taking the burden of proof seriously and are taking action." WWF has called for Schweighofer to be held accountable for its actions.
Already in 2015, a raid of Schweighofer facilities by the Romanian Environmental Agency followed similar allegations against the company. Even then, there was talk of massive misconduct. The final report from the investigation has not been published by the public prosecutor's office and no consequences for the company taken so far. According to WWF, another complaint filed by WWF Austria with the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) has not been sufficiently investigated by authorities. Schweighofer has claimed that they have been controlled nine times already in relation to the EUTR in Romania, each time without complaint.
Environmental organizations have the impression that the implementation of the EUTR in Austria and Romania is not taken sufficiently seriously.
Zahnen concluded: "The wood industry needs to change its direction – it cannot continue its present course. WWF expects a comprehensive legal review of the alleged misconduct. The forests in the Carpathians remain in danger, and therefore WWF will continue to actively address this case."