LIMA, Peru--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The following was issued today by the Environmental Investigation Agency U.S.:
In an unprecedented decision, the Peruvian Environmental Assessment and Enforcement Agency (OEFA) issued a fine of 129,000,000 soles (35 million dollars) to the plantation company Tamshi SAC in the province of Loreto for continuing to operate without required environmental permits and for illegally disposing of hazardous waste in the Peruvian Amazon. The company has been ordered to leave the area immediately and remove all equipment and seedlings. In addition, the government agency has ordered Tamshi SAC to restore degraded forest ecosystems “in order to guarantee that no significant negative environmental impacts persist.”
The company – previously known as Cacao del Peru Norte SAC (CDPN)— is linked to the notorious “Melka Group,” which since 2013 has been responsible for deforesting over 13,000 hectares of rainforest. The company, which has been under investigation by different administrative, civil and criminal authorities in Peru since 2013, changed its name to Tamshi SAC in 2018.
In a landmark ruling in October 2019, the company’s General Manager was sentenced to eight years in prison for illegal trafficking of timber and the company was ordered to pay a fine of around 5 million dollars. The general manager has since been at large and the company has appealed to the sentence.
EIA’s spokesperson in Peru, Julia Urrunaga, said: “We commend this groundbreaking decision. This company has been breaking the law, defying government orders and destroying Peruvian forests with impunity for 7 years. It also sends an important signal to other potential investors that breaking the law is not an option. Only if we end impunity and corruption can we protect our forests and the rights of local communities from further destruction.”
OEFA – which operates under the Ministry of Environment— made the announcement on the heels of a brewing scandal, as the Minister of Agriculture is, according to inside sources, currently preparing to pass a decree that would technically absolve the company from its past violations.
“We have seen an official copy of the decree under discussion, and it essentially amounts to amnesty for illegal operators,” says Urrunaga, who also warned that the decree would violate Peru’s commitments under its trade agreement with the U.S. “We cannot allow a legal precedent to be set whereby environmental crimes are ‘legalized’ through decrees after the fact. That would be an invitation for illegal land grabbers, and a death sentence for our Amazon forest and the communities who depend on it.”
Cocoa produced by Tamshi could have already reached the markets of the U.S. and Europe. Trade data shows at least one exporter to these markets who has confirmed sourcing from the company. The company now has 15 days to appeal OEFA’s decision.