Willems Timber likely to face penalties over breaches

The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) said preliminary findings of an audit on Willems Timber and Trading Company have indicated that the company has breached its operational procedures and penalties will be instituted upon the completion of the investigations.

According to a source close to the investigations, Willems Timber, which has leased a forest concession similar to Barama Company Limited (BCL), could face a steep fine. The company said yesterday that it wasn’t speaking to the media.

A source confirmed that two other large local forestry companies are on the radar and may be made to pay heavy fines in the coming days.

In a comment yesterday, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud noted that the GFC was in the process of carrying out checks of all forest concessions to ascertain whether their operations are in compliance with regulations and operational procedures.

Meanwhile the GFC said in a press release that Barama Company Limited has paid in full the required compensation of $96.4M to the GFC for breaches of procedure committed in forestry concessions leased to A. Mazaharally and Sons Limited, Barakat Timbers Limited and N. Sukul and Sons Limited.

“While BCL’s recent press statement on the matter has confirmed no liability on their part, the GFC maintains its position that the breaches were verified on the basis of substantial and intensive investigations, the GFC also notes the willingness of BCL to cooperate with the GFC in carrying out a comprehensive review of BCL’s operations to avoid any recurrence,” the GFC said.

The GFC also noted BCL’s willingness to cooperate with the GFC in fully addressing another identified breach of procedures involving both BCL and Guyana Sawmills Limited in a forest concession leased to the latter company.

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