Illegal logging claimed

The coalition Democratic Left Party (SDĽ) and its leader and Agriculture Minister Pavol Koncoš are responsible for a major part of the country's illegal logging business, private TV Markíza has claimed.

Peter Lipsuch, head of the Wood Processors' Association (ASD) said in a report December 6 that annual revenues from the illicit trade were between Sk500 and Sk800 million ($10.2 to $16.3 million). He said the SDĽ and their representatives were aware of the problem and were doing nothing to deal with it. The ASD head said some firms had made huge profits through false export declarations. Although they export top quality wood, the declarations on their export show that low quality wood is being sent abroad, he claimed.

"This doesn't happen only with exports but also on the domestic market," Lipsuch said. He added the Agriculture Ministry was aware of these transactions. Koncoš dismissed the allegations. He said: "I don't do business with wood, I don't sign contracts and I don't load the wagons."

Lipsuch said that although they in the past had informed former SDĽ chairman and Speaker of Parliament Jozef Migaš, Economy Minister Ľubomír Harach as well as Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda of the wood machinations, no action against companies had been taken.

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