Thursday, 15 November 2007

M'sian lumber firm pays fine to Guyana

M'sian lumber firm pays fine to Guyana -
Nov 15, 07 11:11am

A Malaysian lumber company Wednesday said it agreed to pay Guyana US$470,000 in fines for allegedly under-reporting the number of logs it harvested from the Amazon jungle. Barama Company Limited (BCL) said it would immediately pay the compensatory fines in good faith, without prejudice and without admission to liability.

Last month, when the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) announced the penalties, BCL threatened to fire workers and cut production while it appealed to the GFC to hire internationally-recognized experts to investigate the charges. On Wednesday, however, the company admitted breaches by several low-level staffers harvesting in areas where permits were still being processed.

"The company takes the allegations very seriously and is committed to engage with the Guyana Forestry Commission to a comprehensive review of the timber operation procedures and improve the processes going forward," said BCL Chief Executive Officer Peter Ho.

The company admitted to a number of anomalies, including unintentional mixing of tree tags and harvesting in areas where permits were still being processed, but it denied under-declaring all the logs harvested to the GFC.

The GFC said its probe found that BCL declared less logs than it harvested in July from privately-owned Guyanese companies. Malaysian-owned BCL has been operating in the northwestern Amazon jungle of the impoverished South American country for almost 30 years. - AFP