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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Claims of timber going east

Claims of timber going east

BRITISH environmentalists Global Witness claims proof from documents, secretly-filmed

testimonies and photographs that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of illegally

cut Cambodian timber is presently stockpiled in Vietnam.

The group says it has documents that it will release at Post press time of still

more timber - between 100,000 to 130,000 cubic meters - has been earmarked to cross

the Kingdom's eastern border.

It says that logs are now being cut in Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri, and

that all the cutting and trade is controlled by RCAF.

Group co-director Patrick Alley said that he had already seen stockpiles totalling

260,000 cubic meters in Gialai and Song Be provinces in Vietnam, at Qui Nhon port

and by the Saigon River near Ho Chi Minh City.

The group says the logs are worth $130 million, based on a price of $500 per cubic

meter, that was given to them by officials of the Vietnamese state forest product

corporation Vinafor.

Group co-director Simon Taylor told the Post by telephone that the proceeds to Cambodian

interests may be as little as $14 a cubic meter.

However, Taylor said he had recently received fresh documents that show another 130,000

cubic meters of logs had been signed from the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh to

Vinafor, via the command of RCAF Military Region No. 1.

The letter, dated Jan 15, said that the timber was ostensibly for domestic use, for

instance rebuilding hospitals and homes destroyed during Typhoon Linda last November.

"But the timber they're cutting is for the luxury market," Taylor said.

"We know that Vinafor has a subsidary called Forimexco 19, that deals exclusively

in the luxury garden furniture market."

Alley said: "This trade is illegal, the logging highly destructive and wasteful,

none of the money will go to the Cambodian Treasury, and most dangerously it will

fund the military and political parties, predominantly the CPP, in the lead-up to

the elections."



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