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The Rape Of Madagascar - Armed W. Stacks Of Cash, China Builds Fake Ming Furniture From Rosewood

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 12:30 PM
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The Rape Of Madagascar - Armed W. Stacks Of Cash, China Builds Fake Ming Furniture From Rosewood
EDIT

Exporting illegal lumber depends not just on a 'bank-like system' but on actual banks--some of the largest in the world. Timber traders typically receive down payments amounting to as much as half of the total sale from buyers abroad, with the remainder financed by Malagasy branches of international banks. Of this, according to documents obtained by EIA/GW investigators, Bank of Africa and Socit Gnrale (#43 on Forbes Fortune 500 List) each financed roughly half of declared exports from SAVA in 2009, while recent reports from local sources suggest that Crdit Lyonnais has been a player as well. All three of these banks are at least partially owned by the French government. Bank of Africa is a group of banks clustered thirteen African countries whose shareholders include the governments of several African countries as well as FMO, the Dutch government-controlled development bank.

Malagasy law requires exporters to repatriate income generated abroad within six months. Banks that provide the initial financing for export are responsible for keeping records as to the nature and value of the merchandise. Failure to comply subjects exporters to fines that can reach 100% of the value of export goods. "But it doesn't appear that there's any oversight going on," Khedouri said. The agency responsible for monitoring exports, the Finance Ministry's Service de Change, is both delinquent and impotent--delinquent in that it fails to obtain adequate export records from the banks charged with furnishing them, and impotent because it lacks the teeth to freeze assets or enforce mandated fines in the event of irregularities. One official at the Service told the EIA/GW team that the fines are widely considered "laughable." In 2009, for instance, the banks that financed the export of more than $100,000,000 of rosewood from SAVA did not report a single container of precious woods in their export records. On their end, according to the EIA/GW report, the Service lacks any system to catalogue or track those export records it does receive from banks, opening the door wide to would be money launderers. Given the wide discrepancy between Malagasy export records and Chinese import records, the report notes, it seems likely that this is a common practice.

Customs and shipping documents are similarly lax. Containers on their way from Madagascar to China are likely to stop in at least two countries on the way. The ports at Vohmar and Antalaha, where most precious wood is shipped, cannot accommodate the large container ships that make the trip to Asia. Though shipments of lumber may change hands in the Comoros, Mauritius or Malaysia, cargo manifests routinely leave out these intermediary stops and list only the shipment's final destination in China. As a result, it is nearly impossible for customs officials to know which shipping company will deliver the cargo to its final destination, or to recall illegally exported timber once it has left port. This has happened only once recently, when The Lea, docked in Mauritius was required to return to Madagascar to pay applicable export fines on 12 containers of rosewood. This accomplished, The Lea was allowed to leave again, cargo untouched.

EDIT

The vast majority of precious woods that leave Madagascar are bound for a few cities in Southern China: Hong Kong, Dalian, Shanghai, Ganzhou. Between 1998 and 2008, Chinese imports of tropical wood nearly quadrupled, to 45 million cubic meters annually, making it by far the world's largest consumer of tropical timber. Dr. William Laurance, a researcher at the Smithsonian, wrote in a letter to the journal Science last year that he believes over half of these imports are sourced illegally.
In the U.S., a century of amendments have gradually strengthened the Lacey Act, introduced in 1900 to fight poaching and interstate trafficking of wildlife. It is now a federal crime to illegally purchase, transport, sell, or possess endangered animals and plants from anywhere in the world. The legislation is some of the world's most stringent, and the Lacey Act is viewed as a model for due diligence legislation that may soon take hold in the EU. Even so, enforcement around illegal wood products is still in its infancy. (Only last month, there was a sting against Gibson guitars involving rosewood from Madagascar.)
There are "not presently any laws in China" that require importers to ascertain the origin and legality of their source materials, Khedouri said. In 2007, the US and China concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on illegal logging and the timber trade. It called for the two countries to share information on imports and exports and pursue joint enforcement strategies but little has been done as a result. It's at the "point of import," Khedouri said, that "there's got to to be some due diligence to determine the origin. If you know that you're importing a particular species of rosewood, then you've got to do due diligence and find out your risk ." Currently, however, "I can say explicitly that there are importers in China who have sent people to Madagascar who are sitting in rosewood logging camps in national parks negotiating prices, so there's not even a pretense of that."

EDIT

http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1215-rowan_madagascar.htm...
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pleah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 12:34 PM
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1. K&R that people read this. n/t
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Bolo Boffin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 12:52 PM
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2. Let this epitaph be written on the grave of humanity:
We did it to ourselves.
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mistertrickster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 04:08 PM
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3. I bought a dining room set of Chinese rosewood in Singapore in 1985. At the time,
tropical hardwoods were being extensively over-harvested, but there wasn't any concern about extinction.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have bought it, but that was then . . .

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4dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-23-09 10:43 AM
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4. Damn dirty Chinese
I have nothing but contempt for these chinese bastards..
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