Sentencing has been handed down in the U.S. at the beginning of February in the high profile Illegal Logging case involving US Timber retailer, Lumber Liquidators Inc.
This sentence marks the end of a multi-year investigation in which the Department of Justice found that Lumber Liquidators imported products made of wood harvested illegally in Russia, including timber cut from Siberian tiger habitat.
For years, Lumber Liquidators relied on shoddy reporting to pass off its illegal products. In one instance the company stated a shipment of Mongolian oak flooring was harvested in Germany, even thoughMongolian oak doesn’t even grow in that country. In another, the company declared that 79 shipments of oak flooring, worth nearly $8 million, were all logged from the same permitted area in Russia. Unfortunately for the company, the amount of wood in those shipments was 800 percent of the allowed harvest under that permit.
Going forward, Lumber Liquidators must pay more than $13 million in fines and establish an environmental compliance plan in which all of its products must be traced back to the source of harvesting. Further, over its five-year probation, the company will be subject to independent audits of its sourcing practices. Although Lumber Liquidators can afford more than $10 million in fines, the real cost will come when they can no longer rely on cheap, illegal wood to reduce prices.
By holding Lumber Liquidators accountable for smuggling illegal timber, the United States is showing that it is serious about enforcing the Lacey Act and fighting illegal logging. Indeed, this case should serve as a warning to other companies that they must ensure their products are sourced legally, instead of profiting from cheap, illegal timber.
Want to read about how Lumber Liquidators was taken down?
The penalty is the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act and one of the largest Lacey Act penalties ever.
The US Department of Justice released a statement on the sentencing.