Romania: Austrian Firm at Center of Illegal Logging Scandal

An investigation by RISE Project, an OCCRP partner, has revealed how an Austrian-based company bought huge volumes of timber from controversial local logging firms over the past two years.

Schweighofer, a company controlled by one of the wealthiest families in Austria, is the main buyer of Romanian wood.

RISE Project found that some of the local firms that sold the logs to processing plants owned by the Austrian corporation are connected to former Schweighofer directors, local politicians, or businessmen with long criminal records.

According to documents obtained by RISE reporters, some of the logging firms received loans from Schweighofer in order to expand their activities.

The most important supplier of wood is the state-owned Romsilva, whose president Adam Craciunescu is indicted for corruption in a case of illegal forest restitution.

Deforestation is a serious issue in Romania where the president, Klaus Iohannis, put illegal logging as a strategic issue on the agenda of the next Supreme Council for the Defense of the Country (CSAT).

In the past few months, thousands of Romanians have taken to the streets to protest illegal deforestation.

In 2013, Schweighofer bought 240 million euro of Romanian forests at the price of 70 euros per cubic meter (about US$ 78). About 3.5 million cubic meters of timber arrived at processing plants owned by the company.