UARU
Corruption Destroying Western Ukraine’s Forests
17 October, 2016
785

What You Need To Know:

✅ Austrian company Schweighofer, with sawmills located in Northern Romania near the Ukrainian border, was accused of purchasing illegally cut wood in Romania and Ukraine;
✅ Puiulet followed the money and tracked suppliers in Romania and Ukraine which then “disclosed the connections between illegal cuttings, their suppliers and this company;”
✅ The scheme is a matter of corruption and is being investigated by Organized Crime prosecutors;
✅ “We are trading our air. We are not aware that our forestry is so important for us.”

Austrian company Schweighofer, with sawmills located in Northern Romania near the Ukrainian border, was accused of purchasing illegally cut wood in Romania. It now faces accusations of doing the same in Ukraine, and is building a sawmill in the Ukrainian town of Kolomiya. Romanian investigative journalist Romana Puiulet recently produced a report for Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, where she disclosed the illegal logging.

Aware of illegal cuttings in her native country, Puiulet began digging into the subject where she discovered the Austrian company and was able to obtain all their contracts. She followed the money and tracked suppliers in Romania and Ukraine which then “disclosed the connections between illegal cuttings, their suppliers and this company.”

“It’s a huge network that operates in the Carpathian Mountains,” she says. The scheme is a matter of corruption, she adds, and it is now being investigated by Organized Crime prosecutors. Many of the suppliers were previously convicted of other crimes. While Schwieghofer never denied anything in Puiulet’s report, the company clams it did not know about the suppliers’ criminal records.

Besides economic impacts of mass logging, the problem with illegal cuttings also has ecological consequences in the regions: “We are trading our air. We are not aware that our forestry is so important for us.”

Kyiv Post’s Josh Kovensky spoke to Romana Puiulet, Journalist at Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project via Skype on October 16th, 2016.