The money was paid by the very companies involved in the abortive illegal export. According to a report in the Maputo daily “Noticias”, they contacted the Customs Tribunal and expressed their desire to re-acquire the wood. Mozambican legislation allows this, and the Tribunal stipulated a price of 15.8 million meticais, which the companies paid.
The eight companies concerned are Casa Bonita Internacional, Lda., Seny Lda, Chanate, Lda., Ventura, Lda., Mozambique Trading, Lda., Tong Fa, Lda., Zen Young International, Lda., and Onzui, Lda., several of which are owned by Chinese citizens.
The payment by the companies avoided the sale of the wood at public auction, which has happened in several other cases where containers full of illegal logs have been seized. Once the money had been paid, the companies were allowed to send the logs to China.
The logs were seized because, under Mozambican forestry legislation, precious hardwoods should not be exported in unprocessed form.
The wood was in 508 containers, and an operation on this scale must have involved complicity on the part of Mozambican officials. Speaking in Nacala on Monday, the Chairperson of the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT), Rosario Fernandes, said that 14 officials from the police, the customs service and the Nampula Provincial Agriculture Directorate are facing disciplinary proceedings.
He added that the scandal has led to changes in the staff of the provincial delegation of the AT, and of the Nampula and Nacala customs directorates.Post published in: Africa News