WASHINGTON / LIMA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yesterday, May 24 2016, the national forestry authority in Peru (SERFOR) issued a public statement confirming the illegal operations of United Cacao’s subsidiary in the country, clarifying, once again that the company does not have the required environmental approval. Citing large scale illegal deforestation that has taken place without this approval, which has been verified by the relevant authority inside Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture, DGAAA, the statement outlines the actions taken by various Peruvian government entities to halt the operations of the company and the large scale illegal deforestation that has already taken place. SERFOR further called upon the London Stock Exchange to support the Peruvian government’s enforcement actions by requiring listed companies to fully comply with the laws and policies of countries of operation.
Julia Urrunaga of the Environmental Investigation Agency responded to the statement.
“We commend SERFOR’s and DGAAA’s ongoing efforts to stop illegal and destructive deforestation for agricultural commodities. The Peruvian government has repeatedly documented that Cacao del Peru Norte’s operations are illegal and have caused significant damage to Peruvian forests,” said Ms. Urrunaga. “The Peruvian government has made it clear that the London Stock Exchange and other sources of international capital have a role to play in ending abuses and deforestation in Peru.”
“We share the government’s concern for the anonymous threats received by indigenous and local communities in the areas around these agro-industrial plantations,” said Ms. Urrunaga. “We also strongly emphasize our support for the public employees who have been threatened and intimidated during field visits to investigate plantation operations.”
The government statement reinforces the clear need for protection of environmental defenders who are being threatened for speaking out against the illegal expansion of agro-commodity crops in the Peruvian Amazon. Whether for oil palm, cacao, or timber, companies seeking to supply goods to the global marketplace must respect local laws that protect communities and the environment.
On May 4 2016, over 60 Peruvian and international organizations sent a letter to the London Stock Exchange requesting the removal of United Cacao from trading on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market for violating AIM regulations by making false statements about the legality of their operations’ deforestation of Peruvian rainforest.
On May 5, the company responded with a communication to their shareholders reiterating these same false statements. The SERFOR statement is the Peruvian Government response to the May 5 communication.
SERFOR’s statement emphasizes that ownership of the land in no way conveys de facto legal right to deforest it. As explained in the statement, before pursuing deforestation activities, one must first obtain a land classification study (Clasificación de Tierras por su Capacidad de Uso Mayor) that has been approved by the relevant Peruvian national authority (DGAAA), as well as an Environmental Certification that has also been approved by the DGAAA. Finally, a land use change authorization is required and must be approved by the forest and wildlife Regional authority (ARFFS). United Cacao had none of these documents or authorizations for its operation in Tamshiyacu, nor did United Cacao’s related companies, Plantaciones de Ucayali and Plantaciones de Pucallpa, for their operations in Ucayali. United Cacao and its related companies must immediately cease all operations that have been found to be carried out in violation of Peruvian law and respect Peruvian government entities, enforcement actions, and the laws and policies of its country of operation.
Read the full statement from SERFOR here.
Read EIA’s sign on letter here.
Read EIA’s briefing, London Stock Exchange Financing for Illegal Deforestation in Peru via AIM-listed United Cacao Ltd. SEZC, here.
Read the Annexes containing primary evidence here.