A rubber company representative yesterday denied claims that his firm was involved in the alleged $100 million illegal logging of Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary – but blamed a sister company for at least some of the forest’s devastation.
Seng Mony, a representative of Hoang Anh Andong Meas, which operates on an economic land concession (ELC) within the wildlife sanctuary, said his company was not logging illegally.
“We’ve never done this,” he said. “Not a single log. I only clear forest inside my company’s land.”
Mony, however, said Hoang Anh Lumphat, a company run by different bosses but owned by the same conglomerate, had been logging outside its ELC.
“I know Hoang Anh Lumphat is cutting timber in the sanctuary,” he said. “But I do not care. It’s not my business – Hoang Anh Lumphat doesn’t even allow me to drive my car past.”
The Post yesterday reported claims that rights group Adhoc, local authorities and villagers had discovered that an estimated 16,000 trees had been cleared from the sanctuary.
Sre Angkrang commune chief Chhoem Sokhim said he visited the site on Sunday and saw timber being transported into Andong Meas’s ELC.
Sokhim said yesterday that Andong Meas was a rubber plantation, while Lumphat produced coconut oil.
“They are different companies. Hoang Anh Lumphat borders the sanctuary, but when I saw the [truck] transport the timber into [Andong Meas], it went on the road, not through Hoang Anh Lumphat’s land,” he said.
The Ministry of Commerce’s website says Andong Meas and Lumphat are chaired by the same person: Nguyen Van Thu.
Van Thu declined to comment yesterday before passing his phone to an assistant, who referred the Post to the “director” of Andong Meas, a “Mr Yung”.
Mr Yung confirmed he was the director of Andong Meas, but hung up when asked about illegal logging. No further contact could be made with Lumphat.
Andong Meas is the only one of four similarly named companies in the province actually inside the wildlife sanctuary.