Mozambique: Criminal Charges in Case of Illegal Timber Export

Maputo — The Mozambican Attorney-General's Office (PGR) has announced that criminal charges are being brought against the Chinese company Feishang Resources Africa Ltd, and nine individuals in connection with the attempt to export illegally to China 76 containers of unprocessed timber.

One of the individuals charged is Chinese, and eight are Mozambicans, including six officials of the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT) stationed at the International Maritime Terminal (TIMAR) in the northern city of Pemba.

The timber was seized in August 2020 in the port of Pemba, but the first attempt to export it to China was foiled thanks to an anonymous tip-off. However, the authorities then entrusted the timber for safe keeping to Feishang, the very company that was trying to export it.

Sure enough, a second attempt to export the timber was made in January 2021, but diplomatic contacts with China were undertaken, in order to ensure that the ship carrying the containers was intercepted, and the timber sent back to Mozambique.

These efforts were partly successful - 66 containers were recovered and sent to Pemba. That still leaves ten unaccounted for. The investigation of the case "is complex", the PGR said.

The PGR added that attempts are under way to recover the remaining ten containers, and to find out if any others were involved in the illegal export.

The PGR statement said there are strong signs that the suspects committed the crimes of disobedience, abuse of trust, illegal exploitation of forestry resources, smuggling, falsification of documents, use of forged documents, and membership of a criminal association.

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