A Brazilian company was paid millions of dollars by two Chinese businessmen as to persuade environment officials from an Amazon state to illegally export illegally harvested hardwoods to China. Though the Brazilian police and prosecutors found out about this scheme and were able to stop it before any exports were made. According to a Guardian report, the state of Amapá was saved from $30 million worth of potential environmental damage.
Prosecutors in Brazil offered last week information on the two operations that have been going on for years and that ended with 31 people charged. Among them, there were the two Chinese entrepreneurs, Brazilian businessmen, environment officials and the former head of the environmental licensing institute of the state of Amapá, on the eastern edge of the Brazilian Amazon.
The police began to investigate the company after they received an anonymous tip off. Thus, the two businessmen, Xiaoliang Xu and Xie Ping paid the Brazilian company Pangea Mineração (Pangea Mining) $3 million out of the $15 million agreed for 50,000 m2 of wood.
“There were Chinese investors who wanted to extract wood in large quantity from Brazil. They made contact with loggers,” said Everton Aguiar, a federal prosecutor in Amapá’s state capital, Macapá. “They were putting a scheme together and it was defeated.”
As the Guardian reported, Pangea used another company, Ordena Brasil, to bribe officials from the Amapá Institute of the Environment and Territorial Planning (Imap, in its Portuguese acronym) to issue “forest replacement credits” that are issued to farmers who sustainably harvest wood by replanting deforested areas.
The police found out about credits for 84,000 m2, put of which 20,000 m2 had been already used. It is still not clear how much of the harvested wood was actually exported.
“We discovered that this company Pangea was acting as an intermediary for a group of Chinese [businessmen],” said João Bastos, a federal police officer from Macapá who worked on the investigations. “They paid bribes to staff of a government environmental organ [so they would] grant licences for deforestation.”
On December 10th, one of the suspects, Xiaoliang Xu, was charged for racketeering and financial crimes, while his associate, Xie Ping, was charged in October with unauthorized deforestation, corruption and racketeering.
The two illegally deforested a 6km strip of forest and had plans to start digging for gold, illegally. According to police reports, Xie Ping had also imported machinery for mining from China.
In October, Luis Costa, the former chief ofImap, was charged with racketeering and inserting false data into public administration systems. He was arrested but has since been released, the Guardian informed.
Brazilian police unveil corruption case of illegal Amazonian timber to be exported to China
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