Mozambique: Timber companies lose their licences

The National Directorate of Land and Forests, part of the Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture, has cancelled the licences of 16 Mozambican and foreign timber companies who were caught attempting to export illegally logs, ivory and other natural resources, the export of which is forbidden or restricted.

According to a report in the Beira daily paper, “Diario de Mocambique”, these companies were involved, between December 2010 and July of this year, in attempts to export to China no less than 807 containers full of logs, mostly of precious hardwoods that can only be exported legally, if they have undergone processing in Mozambique.

Also found in some of the containers were parts of protected animals – including 126 elephant tusks, necklaces and bracelets made of ivory, and rhinoceros horns.

There were three separate seizures. Thus in the northern port of Pemba, in December 2010, six companies were caught trying to export 195 containers of logs, amounting to 3,097 cubic metres of wood.

In Maputo, an attempt to export 49 containers belong to two companies was aborted, while by far the largest seizure occurred at the northern port of Nacala in July, where 563 containers full of almost 8,000 cubic metres of logs from first class species of hardwoods were discovered, on their way to China.

Eight companies (Casa Bonita, Zhen Long, Mozambique Trading, Yihou, Tong Fa, Chanate, Senyu and Verdura), several of which are owned by Chinese citizens, were involved in the Nacala fraud, and were accused of making false declarations about the quantity and quality of the wood they intended to export.

An investigation by the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT) found that they only declared a little more than 5,000 cubic metres of wood, and claimed it had an FOB value of 10.4 million meticais (about 385,000 US dollars). But the AT calculated the real value of the wood at more than four times this amount – 43.86 million meticais.

In addition to losing their licences, the 16 companies must pay fines amounting to 9.9 million meticais (about 367,000 US dollars). All the logs, ivory and other goods in the containers are forfeit to the state.

Over 3,000 cubic metres of this wood has already been sold at public auction, raising revenue of around 34 million meticais for the public treasury.

Post published in: Africa News

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