EIA undercover investigators found that WCTS has a reputation as one of the most brazen forest offenders among timber enterprises in the Congo Basin; this has been well known for years and should not come as breaking news for any European importers sourcing timber from Gabon. The Deputy Director General of WCTS was arrested by Gabonese authorities in 2017 during an investigation into the company’s illegal logging practices, and fined approximately $750,000 for – among other things - logging outside the management plan (already in areas not scheduled to be logged until 2029 and 2030). Soon after the arrest, the organization Conservation Justice filed a civil complaint against the company related to illegal logging and the millions of dollars in taxes the company evaded through illicit practices.
Handy said, “According to what WCTS’ manager told our undercover investigators, WCTS has exported a shipment of wood to Europe every two months for a number of years, with the port of Antwerp being a primary destination. Every WCTS shipment contains illegalities as the company's problematic business model relies upon corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, and overexploitation of tropical forests.”
Compagnie du Bois Anvers, the importer of this latest shipment of WCTS timber, declared they would review their business with WCTS following the announcement of the investigation by Belgian Authorities. However, in light of WCTS’ persistent known forest crimes, the question must be asked why their timber has continued to enter the Belgian market.