(Business in Cameroon) - In a letter recently sent to his representatives in the 10 regions, Cameroon's Minister of Forests and Wildlife, Jules Doret Ndongo (photo), revealed the existence of a network that launders timbers cut illegally by falsifying secure administrative documents.
"It has come to my attention that some crooked economic operators use counterfeited secure documents (waybills and DF10 logbook), to launder illegally exploited timber since they know that some of your collaborators sign blank waybills without even checking the transmittal forms enclosed with the documents," the official wrote.
He added that because of such practices, Cameroon loses important forest and wildlife resources but also revenues. He, therefore, advised his collaborators to be cautious and properly check the documents submitted for authorization request, for the exportation of timber cut in the country.
The case of Vietnamese operators
In a report published in 2020 and titled TAINTED TIMBER, TARNISHED TEMPLES: How the Cameroon-Vietnam Timber Trade Hurts the Cameroonian People and Forests, two NGOs already pointed out that Vietnamese loggers based in Cameroon were engaged in widespread ‘Laundering Operations Covered by Paperwork.’
"To meet the requirements of Vietnamese authorities, trading companies have focused their efforts on obtaining Cameroonian paperwork while disregarding the actual origin of the timber placed on the Vietnamese market," they explained.
“ A senior-level employee from Dai Loi Trading Co. Ltd. (Công ty TNHH Thương Mại Đại Lợi, “Dai Loi”), the largest Vietnamese company operating in Cameroon and one of the three largest timber importers in Vietnam, claimed that he does not care about the origin of the timber even if the timber he is placing on the Vietnamese market were to come from terrorist groups, as long as the proper paperwork is provided,” they added to illustrate their claims.