London-based EIA alleges heavy involvement of Vietnamese military in smuggling logs out of Laos to feed Vietnam's furniture factories; claims denied by government, military

Lorena Madrigal

Lorena Madrigal

Jul 29, 2011 – Associated Press

BANGKOK , July 28, 2011 () – An environmental group says Vietnamese companies are smuggling logs from the once rich forests of Laos to feed a billion-dollar industry that turns timber into furniture for export to the Europe and the United States.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency alleged Thursday that the Vietnamese military was heavily involved in bribing Lao officials, then trafficking the timber to processing factories in neighboring Vietnam on a massive scale.

Laos has some of the region's last intact tropical forests, but there are widespread reports of rampant logging. It has slapped a ban on the exports of raw timber.

The Vietnamese government and military has denied the allegations.

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