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article imageIllegal timber was used to build world's biggest sailing yacht

By Owen Weldon     Apr 6, 2017 in World
A shipyard in Germany used illegally-logged timber from Myanmar when it was building a super-yacht for a Russian billionaire.
Nobiskrug used illegally-sourced timber when it was building "Sailing Yacht," a 470-foot sail-assisted motor yacht. Axel Bieler, public prosecutor, said the timber likely came from forests in Myanmar. A timber expert decided to take samples of the yacht's wood, five years after it was completed, and that's when it was discovered that the timber didn't come from a legal plantation.
What's unclear is whether or not the shipyard knew about the timber's illegal origin. The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency raised the allegations of teak being illegally logged back in October 2016.
The EIA spent two months investigating, and that led to accusations that Teak Solutions, the Spanish supplier of the wood, and eight other suppliers in Europe were wilfully ignorant on the source of the wood they were receiving.
When the EIA first raised the allegations, it said it had identified a shipment of over 1,200 pieces of teak that cost around US$186,000 being used aboard the yacht. It added that this was just one out of many shipments by Teak Solutions. They were in direct violation of the European Union Timber Regulation.
All nine companies didn't verify the source of the timber or they failed to identify the source. They also didn't verify or identify any information that might have mitigated the risks of harvesting in violation of forestry provisions.
The timber was purchased by MTE
Teak Solutions purchased the timber from Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), a government-run wood trading company that was recently sanctioned by Denmark for providing teak of dubious-origin.
Mike Kimble, CEO of Teak Solutions, at the time said his imports were legal and met EU regulations. He added that dealing with MTE was the safest way to source the timber.
As for the shipyard, they said they were fully cooperating with authorities and they support Kiel's investigations. It added that they have interest in quickly proving the allegations wrong, especially since similar investigations against them were halted by the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food.
The investigation is ongoing and it's not clear when Bieler will complete it and if any charges will be brought forward.
Sailing Yacht was built for Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko
The massive yacht was built for Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, who owns fertilizer and energy companies. He has an estimated net worth of almost $14 billion.
The shipbuilder described the yacht as being the most advanced sail-assisted mega-yacht that was ever built. It features eight decks, a helipad, a swimming pool and an observation pod.
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