A large scandal is about to undermine the business of one of the most prosperous Austrian companies that buy and sell wood from Romania’s forests. According to Agerpres, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) published video recordings that show that the leadership of Holzindustrie Schweighofer Romania, the biggest processer of pinewood, knowingly accepted and bought illegally-cut wood. “EIA’s investigations are a trademark of our work around the world, but we tackle environmental crime and defend the natural world strategically, operating in a number of different ways. Our findings are combined with scientific documentation and representation at international conventions, creating the hard-hitting campaigns which have earned us a global reputation.”
The Austrian company claims that when it comes to the process of buying wood it abides by the laws and regulations currently in force and announces that it will start an internal investigation and will take the appropriate decisions based on it.
EIA presented at a press conference images recorded with a hidden camera, EIA investigators impersonating foreign investors that earned the right to use a certain quantity of wood from the forests owned by an owners’ association in Romania. In the talks they had with Schweighofer’s Romanian and Austrian officials, the investigators pointed out several times their intention of cutting more wood than they are allowed by their contract with the owners’ association. The investigators asked the company for assurances that the illegally-cut wood would be bought. Schweighofer officials confirmed that they will buy the wood and outlined the bonuses they will offer for the supplementary quantity of wood.
In its turn, the company claims that it abides by the legislation currently in force and promises it will start an internal investigation.
“In what concerns the accusations levied publicly recently, Holzindustrie Schweighofer will start an internal investigation and will take the appropriate decisions based on it. All persons involved in the purchasing process are obliged to sign a statement that they will respect the internal norms of conduct. Our company will not tolerate the inappropriate behaviour of its employees. Holzindustrie Schweighofer meets all legal requirements imposed by the Romanian state. More than that, we are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified and we are permanently monitored by independent auditors that keep a record of the stocks of raw materials processed in our plants and verify the legality of the source of the raw material processed in our production plants,” the company’s point of view reads.
Holzindustrie Schweighofer is a member of Austria’s Schweighofer Group. In 2014 the company had 2,500 employees in Romania.