Danish Company – Dalhoff Larsen and Horneman- has been ordered to pay US$300,000.00 to a number of Liberian communities for illegal timbers stolen from the country.
The company was indicted for importing more than US$300,000 worth of illegal Liberian timbers. According to Global Witness, the Danish timber giant, Dalhoff Larsen and Horneman (DLH), purchased illegal timbers worth US$304,870 from Liberia in 2012.
One of the world’s leading international timber and wood product wholesalers, the company previously bought conflict timbers, allegedly financing the government of former President Charles Taylor during the country’s brutal civil war.
Global Witness’ investigations suggested that DLH purchased 1,281 m³ of timbers from two Liberian companies in 2012, which was cut under logging contracts called Private Use Permits (PUPs) and exported to Bangladesh, China and France.
PUPs have now been ruled illegal by the Liberian Government, whose 2012 investigation into their use reported widespread fraud and corruption by companies and Liberian officials.
In 2011, the UN Panel of Experts also stated that timbers from PUPs could be used to finance conflict, and threatened the country’s fragile sustainability and anti-corruption efforts.
The revelations put DLH in breach of its certification from the industry body- the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), whose flagship conference on corporate social responsibility it is sponsoring in Copenhagen today. Under the scheme’s rules, companies may not be involved in illegal logging, human rights violations, or the destruction of valuable forests.
Any further imports of illegal timbers into Europe would also make the company liable to criminal sanctions under the EU’s new Timber Regulations, which came into force on 3 March 2013, and bans illegal timber imports, requiring companies importing timber into the region to carry out thorough checks to ensure that the timbers were logged according to the producer country’s laws.
“DLH seems to have learned nothing from the past.
It is appalling that a company that helped finance vicious armed conflict ten years ago continues to do such damage to Liberia’s forests and people, especially while trading so heavily on its sustainability credentials in public,” said Alexandra Pardal of Global Witness.
“In buying this illegal timber, DLH has helped steal valuable resources from one of the poorest countries in the world. Charles Taylor was a key beneficiary of DLH’s dealings, and he’s just been brought to justice in The Hague – it’s about time DLH is also stopped and held to account for its actions.”
During the second civil war in Liberia from 2000-2003, DLH bought timbers from Liberian companies that provided support to Charles Taylor’s regime. Evidence gathered by a group of NGOs including Global Witness, Greenpeace France and Amis de la Terre suggested that DLH knew where the timbers were coming from, and who was benefiting from the sales, and yet it continued purchasing it.
Although Taylor has now been convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague for war crimes, including the use of natural resources to fund conflict, DLH has not been prosecuted for its own role.