If you are looking for EIA UK, it's overhere.

Lumber Liquidators sentenced for smuggling illegal wood into the United States

North America’s largest specialized flooring retailer put on probation, pays over $13 million for environmental crimes under the Lacey Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Virginia-based company Lumber Liquidators was sentenced to $13.2 million in fines and forfeitures for importing illegal wood and submitting false declarations under the Lacey Act, a conservation law that makes it a crime to import plants and animals taken in violation of state and foreign law. In addition, the company has been placed on a five-year probation, during which it must implement a strict environmental compliance plan.

In October 2015, after a two-year investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the flooring retailer pleaded guilty to smuggling illegal wood, including one criminal felony of entry of goods by means of false statements and four misdemeanor counts of violating the Lacey Act.

Lumber Liquidators had imported flooring manufactured in China, made from wood that was illegally harvested in the forests of the Russian Far East, the habitat of the world’s last remaining wild Siberian tigers.

EIA first documented Lumber Liquidators’ illegal activities in its 2013 report, Liquidating the Forests. Posing as timber buyers, EIA investigators went undercover to expose the illegal timber harvesting and trade in the Russian Far East and traced the wood through China to a company that admitted to illegal logging and paying bribes. The EIA investigation revealed that Lumber Liquidators was the single biggest trading partner of this Chinese company. The subsequent investigation by the DOJ found that Lumber Liquidators committed systemic fraud and sourced illegal timber not only from the Russian Far East but also from Burma.

“This historic criminal sentence against a major U.S. company in relation to the Lacey Act is setting an important precedent: Illegal wood is not longer tolerated in the United States,” said EIA Executive Director Alexander von Bismarck. “U.S. consumers need to be protected from unknowingly supporting organized crime and the destruction of the world’s last virgin forests.”

The penalties for Lumber Liquidators’ crimes include $7.8 million in criminal fines, $1.23 million Community Service payments, $969,175 in forfeited proceeds, and more than $3.15 million in cash through a related civil forfeiture. In order to put in place the mandatory environmental compliance plan, under which all wood imports need to be verified back to the source of harvesting, the company will have to fundamentally transform its sourcing practices and submit itself to government-approved audits.

“The real cost to the company will come from having to forego cheap, stolen wood in its supply chain while the Department of Justice looks over its shoulder,” said von Bismarck. “This case sets an important example for the rest of the industry, the business model of buying cheap wood from shady sources doesn’t pay anymore.”

###

Contact:
Maggie Dewane, EIA Press Officer, mdewane@eia-global.org, (202) 483-6621

For EIA's analysis of the plea agreement and more resources related to the case, click here.

View all Press Releases

Recent Blog Posts

Respaldo de Sociedad Civil a Defensora Ambiental en Perú
03/26/2021
60 instituciones y miembros de la sociedad civil y organizaciones indígenas en Perú emitieron hoy un comunicado respaldando a la Defensora Ambiental Lucila Pautrat ante los ataques que viene recibiendo de parte de una empresa investigada por la instalación no autorizada de monocultivos agroindustriales en Tamshiyacu, en la Amazonía peruana.
Escazu Agreement Offers Hope but is Only the Beginning
02/23/2021
2020 was a terrible year across the globe, but particularly for Latin America’s environmental defenders. After record numbers of murders in 2019, the perils for environmental and human rights defenders did not decline in 2020. In fact, these threats remained high and even increased during the pandemic, as illegal loggers, miners, and other land grabbers had free reign to encroach upon remote communities. And this time, the intruders brought with them the deadly coronavirus.

Recent Reports

Cashing-In On Chaos
06/03/2020
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)’s three-year investigation into the Senegal-Gambia-China rosewood traffic uncovered unprecedented evidence on a series of major forest crimes.
Mukula Cartel
12/05/2019
In Zambia the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that a handful of very high profile figures have apparently orchestrated and facilitated massive trafficking operations for years that are driving mukula rosewood trees to the edge of commercial extinction, devastating vulnerable forests and threatening communities’ livelihoods.

Recent Press Releases

ORAU Statement on the murders of two indigenous Cacataibo leaders in Peru
03/03/2021
EIA joins ORAU in expressing outrage at the murders of human rights defenders who are protecting the Amazon region and their communities, and echoes ORAU’s calls for urgent and immediate actions. Here is an EIA-translated version in English of ORAU’s original letter in Spanish.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Romania’s New Timber Traceability System Removes Public Transparency
02/03/2021
On January 31, Romania released a new electronic timber traceability system, an important step in its transition to a fully digital forest sector. Unfortunately, the new system has inexplicably removed all public transparency.

Recent Videos

Mukula Cartel
12/05/2019
In Zambia the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that a handful of very high profile figures have apparently orchestrated and facilitated massive trafficking operations for years that are driving mukula rosewood trees to the edge of commercial extinction, devastating vulnerable forests and threatening communities’ livelihoods
Raw Intelligence: GOCA
10/18/2019
Mr. Lu is the Secretary of the Association of Overseas Chinese in Gabon and a leading figure in the Forest Union of the Asian Industry in Gabon (UFIAG). He doesn’t miss an opportunity to publicly defend Chinese logging companies in Gabon, and to assert that these entrepreneurs operate with the best of intentions.
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!