INTERVIEW/Holzindustrie Schweighofer representative: We can’t speak of 800 mln euro investment based on illegally obtained wood

INTERVIEW/Holzindustrie Schweighofer representative: We can’t speak of 800 mln euro investment based on illegally obtained wood

The wood industry in Romania has been quite seriously shaken in April this year, after the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released a video in which Holzindustrie Schweighofer employees seem to try to conclude a business with illegally cut wood, on behalf of the company.

Right after that moment, the Romanian authorities take note, same as the Austrian company, both sides having initiated investigations to clarify the issue. In this tense context, several environmental NGOs publicly present a series of reports revealing that Holzindustrie Schweighofer would not operate entirely fair on the market.

The viewpoints, on the one side and another of the conflict, have not delayed in showing up over these past 8 months. The Holzindustrie Schweighofer representative in Romania, Dan Banacu, who also holds the office of the managing director of Austrian group’s Baco plant of Comanesti, Bacau County, spoke in an exclusive interview of the way in which things have progressed in this period and the arguments with which the Austrian investor claims its innocence in front of evidence.

AGERPRES: I would like to begin the discussion today by starting from the first moment of this scandal which we all know about and which was triggered in April this year, after the release of those video recordings featuring Holzindustrie Schweighofer employees. What has happened since then and until now and what measures have you taken in respect to your company’s employees captured in those recordings?
Dan Banacu: We have taken those accusations very seriously and the things that were said in the material in question. We have conducted an investigation of our own on a certain time span. We compared our colleagues’ statements with the footages that were made available. Unfortunately, we didn’t have at our disposal the entire material, therefore there are aspects that we cannot verify. From our colleagues’ declarations, the statements and the result of those images which make illegal associations are not grounded. However, as a consequence, one of our colleagues has been suspended and then presented his resignation for statements that exceeded the discussions he could carry out in accordance with the interior regulations of the company. In the case of the second employee, we could not formulate or thoroughly justify any accusations. He remained in office and still works for the company. I want to add that, separate to the internal investigations, all the procurement procedures and the entire providers’ selection or evaluation modality was revised.

AGERPRES: You were saying at some point that you initiated those investigations only based on the footage broadcast. Have those who made that recording not supplied you with the raw footage, too?
Dan Banacu: No. The footage was filmed more than 8 months prior to broadcasting. We requested to be made available the entire material and we haven’t received it. Based on the footage we received, and based on the declarations of our colleagues we have drawn these conclusions. I have told you that we treated this matter with utmost seriousness. The company CEO himself, Mr Schweighhofer, took a stand and voiced a point of view confirming once more the good practices of the company and our desire to maintain the highest standards. More…