Company accused by EIA of supplying illegal teak for luxury yachts denies allegations

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Two of the biggest exhibitors at the London Boat Show, which took place between January 10-14th are accused by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) of building luxury yachts with illegitimate teak from Myanmar.

The investigation made on Sunseeker International and Princess Yachts International has revealed that the Burmese teak entering the supply chains of the companies had been traded in breach of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR).

Reportedly, before the show, the two companies received £1billion worth of boat orders, whose decks had been built using Burmese teak. According to EIA, the suppliers for Burmese teak to the Sunseeker and Princess Yachts supply chain are NHG Timber and Belgian firm Vandecasteele Houtimport, while 2 of their customers use this teak to produce decks for Sunseeker and Princess Yachts.

As EIA says, the two companies are now forbidden to place any further Burmese teak on the market until they can show compliance with the law. Both Burmese teak suppliers, NHG Timber (UK) and Vandecasteele Houtimport (Belgium) have been found in breach of the EUTR, while decking companies supplying to the Princess and Sunseeker yacht supply chain are not regulated by the EUTR, EIA reported.

Vandecasteele Houtimport contacted Fordaq to express their opinion on this issue, which can be read below:

Vandecasteele have not received any financial penalties and do not have any legal proceedings against them. The main point raised being the lack of traceability from forestry concession to mill. Vandecasteele Houtimport only purchases from mills who source via the MTE, plus only export from the port of Yangon.

"We are convinced that our Due Diligence for all timber coming from Myanmar is compliant with the EUTR (Regulation (EU) No 995/2010.Our Due Diligence has been checked and acknowledged by the MFCC (Myanmar Forest Certification Committee) in the presence of MONREC during their visit to our premises in June 2017.

Furthermore to this approved Due Diligence all shipments are subject to a 3rd party verification. It is true that our resources for fully traceable teak are more and more limited, but we are 100% convinced that the teak we import today has a maximum traceability, and is certainly compliant to the Rules and Regulations of the country of harvest. Additionally to this, an internal audit of the log traceability into the forest of Myanmar is currently being  performed by our purchasing manager.

The company has been existing for over 130 years, 5 generations and wants to go on for many more. They are convinced that the only way of preserving the forests worldwide is to purchase timber from legally and sustainable sources.”

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Barber Cho
Barber Cho
While I was in Brussel to attend FLEGT WEEK last year, I visited Vandecasteele to understand what kind of problems they are facing under EUTR. I was followed by Deputy Director-General and Director of Forest department. I do confirm that neither myself or nor FD endorsed any documentation during the visit. We explained what Myanmar can provide for DDR under EUTR. We explained what kind of difficulties we have to meet the requirement of DDR under EUTR. We agreed that our visit can be part of their effort to understand more between the system of Myanmar and EUTR DDR Requirement. I explained what MFCC is going to do for the DDR of EU Importers. Very recently, one responsible person from Vandecasteele met me to endorse the documentation prepared for Belgium Competent Authorities and I did replied that I cannot endorse since I am not authoriesed to do that. I explained how MFCC is planning for the third party certification system under the framework of MTLAS. MFCC will announce in the website ( )