Trafficking of banned Myanmar teak lands German company with $4m fine

WOB Timber, a logging company based in Hamburg, Germany, has been ordered by a court to pay a $4 million fine for illegally trading Myanmar timber. The April 27 decision was one of the highest financial penalties for this type of crime in the European Union.

The Hamburg Regional Court determined that WOB Timber had evaded EU sanctions by importing 31 different shipments of teakwood from Myanmar, worth several million dollars, between 2008 and 2011. Many of the shipments involved timber being processed in Taiwan and declared as originating from that country, rather than Myanmar, to get around the sanctions.

The court also sentenced the company’s director, Stephan Bührich, to 21 months of conditional prison and a fine of $243,000. Multiple attempts were made to communicate via email with WOB Timber about this matter but received no response.

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Nicolás Bustamante Hernández