Belgium authorities impound Rainbow Trading’s illegal timber

The Belgian authorities have impounded six containers of Brazilian Amazon timber from Rainbow Trading, the company responsible for Amazon destruction we told you about last week. The authorities have confirmed two of the containers are under surveillance by Belgian customs in the port of Antwerp, in Belgium. They are currently investigating the timber but in order to enforce EU law they will need to confiscate it permanently.

Two weeks ago, we discovered that a ship carrying illegal timber from the criminal sawmill Rainbow Trading was on its way to Europe. Rainbow Trading is one of the companies that was linked to a timber laundering racket we exposed in the Amazon back in May. Following the investigation we warned companies that buying from those criminals would be against European law.

Then, in October we caught Rainbow Trading red-handed, trafficking illegal timber in the Amazon. A team of investigators used GPS trackers to show that Rainbow Trading was supplied by timber from illegal logging camps deep in the Amazon, in Para state, where it is estimated that three-quarters of the logging is estimated to be illegal.

Yet even this was not enough to persuade European timber traders not to buy from Rainbow Trading. Just days after we made our second investigation public, a shipment of timber from Rainbow Trading arrived in Europe, and another had arrived just days earlier – both destined for companies in Belgium.

Then we discovered a third shipment – and activists decided it was time to take action. While the ship was crossing the Atlantic, we published the information about the shipment. Over one hundred thousand of you signed a petition demanding the authorities seize the illegal timber. The Argus, confronted the container carrier as it arrived into Rotterdam last week and demanded the authorities seize the shipment.

On Thursday, the Belgian authorities confirmed they impounded two containers, keeping them under customs surveillance in the port of Antwerp. Earlier shipments from Rainbow Trading were stopped by authorities, making it six containers altogether.

Now, the companies that bought this timber could be in serious trouble with the authorities.

Not only is it against the law to sell illegal timber from the Amazon in the EU, but it’s also illegal for companies to import timber if there’s a chance that it’s illegal.

With so much evidence on the table, it is clear European companies shouldn’t be buying from Rainbow Trading. This story is far from over. Rainbow Trading’s illegal timber must be permanently confiscated and the companies that imported it must be sanctioned for disregarding the law.

Take action and ask for Belgian authorities to get to the bottom of this and permanently seize this timber.

Richard George is a Forests Campaigner for Greenpeace UK.

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