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Investigation into tainted timber

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Midden-Nederland - The police department Midden-Nederland, the Netherlands food and consumer product safety authority (NVWA) and the public prosecutors office have raided six locations in relation to an investigation which focused on the import of timber. This so called ‘tainted timber’ originates from Myanmar and is being imported via the Czech republic into the Netherlands. The import of illegally harvested timber is prohibited. Companies should follow all the steps of the due diligence system to reach a negligible risk of placing illegally harvested timber on the EU market.

Investigation into tainted timber

The raids occured throughout the Netherlands. In the provinces of Utrecht, Gelderland and Noord-Holland companies and houses were searched. Also in the Czech republic police and the NVWA have, in cooperation with the Czech authorities carried out a raid. Large quantities of timber, administration and electronic devices have been confiscated. ‘We believe the companies involved have deliberatelly tried to circumvent the rules to get this timber on the  Dutch market: says Arno Paas of the Dutch Police.

The confiscted timber is teak from Myanmar. This teak is highly priced and valuable , used in the luxury yaught building industry as decking. A lot of money can be earned with this product, however there is a downside to this.

In 2013 the EU timber regulation entered into force. To halt worldwide deforestation the EU has prohibited the placing on the market of illegaly harvested timber. Companies must check whether there may be illegaly harvested timber in their supply chain and they should take mitigating measured to reduce that risk to negligible. They should collect documents regarind location of harvest, the processing, transport and export of the timber. They should assess whether there is for instance a risk of illegaly logging or corruption. If the risk is not negligible they should take further steps such as audits in the supply chain. Other options are for instance the use of chain of custody certified timber or refraining from further placing timber on the market. Myanmar does not provide information on the origin of the timber, making it impossible to assess whether the timber has been legally harvested.