Binh Duong timber smuggler jailed

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Ho Chi Minh City People's Court on Tuesday sentenced the mastermind of a timber smuggling operation to 16 years in jail.

Nguyen Van Hoa, deputy director of Kim Loi Limited Company based in neighboring Binh Duong Province, along with seven other defendants were found guilty of smuggling 93 containers of protected timber to China.

The company and its executives were operating under the cover of business that exported products to China.

Four executives of companies in Binh Duong were sentenced to a jail term between 4 and 13 years.

Two custom officers found guilty of corruption received 9 years and a year of probation.

According to the indictment, Hoa bought the illegally-logged wood and conspired with Kim Loi Limited Company associates to export the wood by covering them with other products in the containers between December 2006 and June 2007.

They bribed two officers of the Saigon Port Customs Office Nguyen Viet Nam and Nguyen The Van with US$1,700 to facilitate the exports.

On June 14, 2007, the smuggling operation was uncovered after customs officers found 10 containers of protected wood labeled as "coconut-made nets" intended for China.

The indictment accuses the smuggler of exporting more than 1.7 million cubic meters of illegal timber worth VND26 billion ($1.24 million).

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