Ukrainian “firewood” is sold to woodworking companies in Romania and Hungary, which have nothing to do with energy’s sector. The largest volumes of firewood are exported by the farms of the State Forest Agency, which is headed by an associate of the Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. At the same time, the law banning the export of firewood was vetoed by President Petro Poroshenko.
Ukraine has a ten-year moratorium on the export of raw wood. The ban was introduced to raise the domestic woodworking industry. Now it is difficult to assess the effect of such protectionist measures, but it can be said with precision that the smuggling of forest from Ukraine has increased.
The most common scheme for exporting untreated wood from Ukraine is the export of firewood in the form of round timber with a length of two meters. In fact, every year thousands of tons of industrial wood are exported under the guise of conventional — fuel.
Ukrainian industrial wood under the guise of firewood is sold to European wood processors who produce furniture, flooring, panels and other products from it.
It is profitable for Europeans — you save your forest, buy cheap Ukrainian, recycle and get added value, jobs and taxes.
How much, who, where and for whom is exporting firewood from Ukraine?
What is the dynamics of the export of firewood from Ukraine in 2014-2018?
According to the State Fiscal Service, in 2014, the export of firewood from Ukraine increased compared with 2013 by 15.5%, to 1.75 million tons.
In 2015, the dynamics of the export of Ukrainian firewood increased by another 16%, to 2 million tons. In 2016 and 2017, the rate of export of fuel wood from the country remained at the level of 2 million tons.
At the same time, this year export growth rates have intensified — for eight months, 1.5 million tons of firewood has already been removed from the country.
Who consumes Ukrainian firewood?
The editors had at their disposal detailed customs data on the export of Ukrainian firewood for the six months of 2018.
Geography analysis showed that almost all Ukrainian firewood is exported to Europe. There were also small batches to China and the Middle East.
The absolute leader in the consumption of fuel wood from Ukraine was Romania, which imported 232 thousand tons of firewood. You might think that the energy of the country rests on our wood.
There is another neighbor, Hungary that bought 50 thousand tons of Ukrainian firewood. Turkey, which actively consumes raw materials from Ukraine, delivered 27.5 thousand tons of firewood.
Slovakia imported 23 thousand tons of Ukrainian fuel wood, and 22 thousand tons of firewood was exported from Ukraine to the richest EU country, Germany.
Poland imported 18.6 thousand tons, Austria — 14.2 thousand tons of firewood.
Is it really firewood?
There are big doubts that millions of tons of firewood, which are not exported from Ukraine, are used for their intended purpose.
So, if you look at the “DESCRIPTION OF GOODS” section in customs statistics, you will see a similar cargo characteristic: “Fuel wood (oak, hornbeam), diameter 60-140 mm; length is 2000 mm.
It is not easy to imagine oak round timber with a length of 2 meters with ordinary firewood. And almost all the supplies that we analyzed have a similar characteristic. Only the diameter and type of wood that is “turned into wood” differ.
So under the guise of firewood from Ukraine export industrial wood
Yes. After the introduction in 2015 of the ten-year ban on the export of untreated wood from Ukraine, suppliers began to send a significant part of export supplies under the guise of fuel wood.
State logging enterprises take an active part in this. This can be called smuggling at the state level.
Who are involved in export of firewood?
An analysis of customs statistics showed that the state-owned forest enterprises are the largest exporters of firewood from Ukraine. Thus, the SE took out from the country 250 thousand tons of firewood for UAH 269 million (invoice value). This is half the volume of exported firewood in January-June 2018.
Private firms exported about 70 thousand tons of fuel wood, and utilities — 50 thousand tons.
At the same time, the most active exporter of firewood among utilities was “Zhytomyroblagroles”, which is subordinate to the Zhytomyr Regional Council. It exported 44.5 thousand tons of fuel wood.
The smallest volumes were exported by individual entrepreneurs, who collectively exported 35 thousand tons of firewood.
The gates of the country control various clans. What customs does the firewood go through?
The leader in terms of registration of firewood for export is Chernivtsi Customs, which in the first half of 2018 carried out half of export deliveries.
As stated in an interview with the deputy from “Self-help” Tatyana Ostrikova, the chairman of the subcommittee on customs affairs of the Tax Committee of the Rada, the political party “The People’s Front” has influence on this customs.
Zakarpattian customs, which is influenced by local political elites, was in second place, and Lviv, where local criminal authorities and the SSU are actively interested, — in third place.
Odessa Customs is coming next. It makes out the supply of Ukrainian firewood to Italy, Turkey, Israel and China.
Volyn customs, which was headed by Victor Krivitsky who serve as Vice-Chairman of the SFS, which is responsible for all customs, is actively working for export as well.
Vinnytsia Customs, which is related to Volodymyr Groysman, also provides export of wood.
Whom does our fuel wood “warm”?
These are dozens of European companies. We ran through the largest and, indeed, found among the buyers of Ukrainian firewood fuel wood procurers. For example, the Polish company Frafka, or the manufacturer of fuel pallets Italian Ronchiato. But these companies are in the minority. Their volumes are much smaller than the leaders.
The largest buyer of Ukrainian industrial wood, which is exported under the guise of firewood, is the Romanian company Egger. For six months it acquired 112 thousand tons of our “firewood”.
Just look at a few pages of its site to understand that this is not a boiler room, but a woodworking company that produces furniture and wood coverings.
Or the Swisskrono company from Hungary, which buys tens of thousands of tons of Ukrainian firewood (17 thousand tons for 6 months of 2018), writes on its website that it is engaged in the production of environmentally friendly wood products. Obviously — including Ukrainian.
Here is the manufacturer of fashionable furniture from the Ukrainian wood — the Romanian company KRONOSPAN. It purchased at least 28 thousand tons of our “firewood”. By the way, the products of this company can be easily purchased in Ukraine.
It turns out that they cut down the forest, illegally removed it, converted it into furniture or parquet in their Romanian factory, sold it again in Ukraine and left themselves added value.
Another buyer of our firewood is the Austrian Pisec Gesellschaft, which is a raw wood trader and a producer of sawn timber. The company even has a Ukrainian version of the site.
Another active buyer of our timber is the Romanian company Prolisok. It purchased at least 50 thousand tons of “firewood” in the first half of this year.
Ukrainian media suspected this company in mass buying wood from black lumberjacks and FLP, which the company itself created. The state-owned enterprises do not shun selling their timber to this company.
Who controls forest smuggling?
More than half of the wood from Ukraine is exported by state forest enterprises, which are subordinate to the Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine.
This department is headed by Volodymyr Bondar, who, as media have repeatedly written, is on close friendship with Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.
The involvement of the PGU in forest smuggling was also discussed in the camp of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. Thus, the associate of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and former acting chairman of the State Fiscal Service Miroslav Prodan hinted that the General Prosecutor’s Office was responsible for protecting forest smuggling in Ukraine.
By the way, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and Prime Minister Groysman are in conflict with each other. The conflict is related to the fact that in the summer, the Prime Minister together with the Minister of the Interior Ministry Arsen Avakov sent to the customs the police detachments allegedly to fight smuggling flows.
This initiative did not like the entourage of President Poroshenko, which affects the work of customs through the SSU.
As a result, a criminal proceeding has emerged regarding the export of nuts, where Miroslav Prodan appears, whom the prosecutor’s office suspects of illegal enrichment.
As reported by Business Censor, Prodan a few years ago appeared in a criminal case of smuggling nuts through the Vinnytsia customs, which at the time he was headed.
If everyone knows about wood smuggling under the guise of firewood, then why not stop it?
It almost succeeded, but President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko prevented it. The Attorney General and the President are associates.
In summer, the Verkhovna Rada voted for the law on criminal liability for smuggling timber and banning the export of firewood from Ukraine.
However, President Petro Poroshenko vetoed this law by making suggestions. Namely: to exclude the rule on the prohibition of eight years of exporting firewood from Ukraine.
According to the head of state, such a ban violates the obligations of Ukraine as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Poroshenko’s double standards are surprising, because the ban on the export of unprocessed timber also violates the rules of free trade. Europeans have repeatedly insisted on the lifting of the moratorium.
In early September, the Verkhovna Rada adopted this law as amended by the president. In fact, the government has shown interest in continuing to smuggle Ukrainian wood under the guise of firewood.
According to the publication «Our Money», the family of Yuriy Lutsenko is directly related to the forest business. The son of the Prosecutor General Alexander Lutsenko (the one who previously worked in the “Tedis Ukraine” cigarette monopolist) is co-owner of LLC “Green Wave” (Kiev) and LLC “Grandwood Group” (Bila Tserkva), which have logging and sawmill production in their activities.
In the “Green Wave”, Lutsenko Jr.’s partner is Vitaliy Morozyuk, who is the director of the Lutsenko’s company “Bel Fam”.
In the “Grandwood Group”, the partners of the prosecutor’s son are Yuriy Sokolov, Andrey Gorbatyuk and Alexander Naumik. And all of them, together with Lutsenko Jr., are the owners of another sawmill — in the Rakitnom Rivne region — LLC «Vear».
Naumik is known as a lawyer for the owner of the ATB supermarket chain Gennady Butkevich. Shares are registered on Naumik in LLC “Ukrainian Supplying Group” and LLC “BR Logistics” (TOV “Ukrainsky Postachalna Gruppa” and TOV “BR BR Logistics” in Ukrainian), he is a member of the board of trustees in the children’s public organization “Football Club “Yubileyniy” («Football Club «Yuvileiniy» — in Ukrainian), founded by the co-owner of ATB Yevgeniy Yermakov.
Naumik also dealt with the wife of Prosecutor General Irina Lutsenko, who a year ago sold him some movable property for UAH 1.89 million (possibly, an old car, since after that she immediately bought a new Mercedes Benz GLS 350D worth UAH 2.43 million).
Recall, a former employee of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Dmitry Sus, in court stated that Butkevich was “Lutsenko’s best friend.” In the last year, the GosGeonedra and the courts transferred a number of special permits for the use of subsoil to firms owned by Butkevich, Yermakov and another representative of ATB.
Naumik is a co-founder ofLLC “ALD” (oil and gas exploration), along with Volodymyr Evdokimov, who was Deputy Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko in the 2000s. Sus recalled Yevdokimov along with Butkevich about his testimony in the case of Pavel Grechkivsky, a member of the High Council of Justice, who is accused of an unfinished attempted fraudulent takeover of $ 500 thousand. They say that Evdokimov instructed the PGU investigators, who are formally subordinates of Yuriy Lutsenko, what to do in the case related People’s Deputy of the Radical Party Sergey Rybak, who divorced with scandal with the daughter of Butkevich, after which the former father-in-law and the Prosecutor General’s Office began to put pressure on the people’s deputy.
Evdokimov also has a stake in LLC “Central Building Management” (the village of Lesniki, Kyiv-Svyatoshinsky District), involved in logging. Here are his partners Victoria Lavrega and Konstantin Khvorostyan.
The firms «Vear», «Grandwood Group» and «Central Building Management» are not directly listed among the exporters of Ukrainian «firewood».
The largest exporters of “firewood” and “fuel” wood of Ukraine in the first half of 2018
|1. DP «Teterіvske Lisov gospodarstvo»||22 463 192|
|2. DochP «Slovechansky lisgosp APK»||21 768 804|
|3. TOV «L-trans» (Olexander Lynnik)||20 480 983|
|4. SE “Radomislske Lisomis Gospodarstvo”||19 448 472|
|5. SE “Kremenetske Lisovskaya Gospodarstvo”||17 521 825|
|6. SE “Slovechanske Lisove Gospodarstvo”||12 795 734|
|7. TOV Kompaniya Lispostach||12 176 897|
|8. SE “Rokitnіvske Lisovo Gospodarstvo”||11 076 361|
|9. SE “Ternopilskiy Lisove Gospodarstvo”||10 425 222|
|10. SE “Bilokorovytke Lisovo Gospodarstvo”||10 366 857|
|11. SE “Berezhanske lisomislivke state gift”||10 005 705|
|12. SE “Chortkivske Lisove Gospodarstvo”||9 994 157|
|13. SE “Buchatskiy Lisove Gospodarstvo”||9 915 877|
|14. LLC “Woodline 2014”||9 754 162|
|15. SE “Makarivske Lisovo Gospodarstvo”||9 384 794|
|16. TOV «D-Forrest»||8 451 866|
|17. SE “Sarnenske lisove Gospodarstvo”||8 311 105|
|18. SE “Boguslavske Lisovo Gospodarstvo”||8 079 721|
|19. SE “Novograd-Volinske dosvіdne lisomislivke gospodarstvo”||7 721 425|
|20. DochP «Korostishіvsky lisgosp APK»||7 653 110|