Government probing logging claims

The Ministry of Environment is investigating collusion between state officials and timber traders in the country’s east, Environment Minister Say Sam Al said on May 11, three days after a report exposed industrial-scale illegal logging backed by Vietnamese traders in Ratanakkiri province. The minister’s comments came as the Vietnamese government also released a statement in response to evidence uncovered by the Environmental Investigation Agency that suggested Vietnamese and Cambodian officials received millions of dollars in bribes to facilitate the trade. His admission marks the first time the ministry has acknowledged the systematic logging operation detailed in the EIA report, estimated to have stripped some 300,000 cubic metres of timber from protected areas, which are under Sam Al’s purview. The wood has allegedly been smuggled to Vietnam.

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