October 27/November 3, 2014; Volume 28/Number 10
Toronto—According to shipping records obtained by media outlet 16×9, Xingjia, a Chinese company that’s been accused of illegally sourcing its wood from the Russian Far East, sent over $5.7 million worth of wood to the port of Vancouver bound for North American store shelves.
According to 16×9’s story “Liquidating the Forests,” Von Bismarck runs an NGO called the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and spent three years tracking wood from the Russian Far East to Xingjia, where the wood is processed. Some of that wood is sold in North America and much of it by Lumber Liquidators, he told reporters.
“We followed the trail to the biggest companies in the U.S. that were getting most of that wood,” he said. “Unfortunately that just blazed a trail that led predominately to Lumber Liquidators.”
Lumber Liquidators has denied these allegations. Store reps said the EIA report “contained fundamental inaccuracies and unsubstantiated claims.” Xingjia has denied these allegations as well.
Lumber Liquidators also told 16×9 that “the sourcing, harvesting and manufacturing of all of [its] products are designed to meet or exceed all applicable U.S. and international laws.” The company added that it has a training program and regular independent audits to make sure the wood comes from permissible forests.
Meanwhile, EIA’s Bismarck said his investigation proved Lumber Liquidators bought and sold illegal wood. Pretending to be a businessman, he flew to China and spoke with Xingjia, which he said is Lumber Liquidators’ principal Chinese supplier of wood. By using official documents and trade data, he claimed to have identified approximately 30 Russian trading companies and concession holders that sold timber to this company in 2012.
Bismarck investigated Xingjia’s top Russian suppliers, many of which, his report said, “had links to recent illegal logging cases…one supplier that Xingjia explicitly named when asked for documentation about their sourcing was sanctioned in 2010 for illegal logging and is the subject of a criminal investigation” in the Russian Far East.