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More Evidence Emerges FDA Permitted Illegal Timber Export

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Top: The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) permitted West Water Group (Liberia) to export 797 logs in March. However, over half of the consignment was illegally harvested. The DayLight/Derick Snyder

By James Harding Giahyue and Derick Snyder

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth part of a series on the Forestry Development Authority’s approval of illegal timber exports. 

  • In February, the FDA’s log-tracking computer LiberTrace red-flagged 413 logs in West Water’s consignment with multiple problems. Yet the Forestry Development Authority ignored the warnings and approved the shipment.
  • The FDA dismisses DayLight’s initial investigation of the illegal export as an “intentional misinterpretation” of the facts
  • But DayLight traced some of the illegal logs back to the stumps of the trees from which they were harvested, supporting LiberTrace’s findings
  • A relook at the LiberTrace analysis found several discrepancies, indicating a cover-up
  •  Last year, West Water did not have a valid harvesting certificate, FDA’s records reveal
  • The illegal approval reduced government taxes on the logs and encouraged unsustainable logging and impunity

GAYEPUEWHOE TOWN, Grand Bassa County – Last month, a DayLight investigation uncovered the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) approved the export of 797 logs (4,702.679 cubic meters) valued at an estimated US$1 million for a company.

The investigation was based on an analysis of the consignment generated by the FDA log-tracking computer system or LiberTrace. The report cited a screenshot of LiberTrace’s history of West Water Group (Liberia) Inc.’s logs. 

Details of the red-flagged logs appeared on the export permit and a National Port Authority document. That proved the FDA did not ensure West Water corrected the issues LiberTrace raised before sanctioning the export.  

West Water had harvested the logs in the District Three B&C Community Forest in Grand Bassa County, where the Chinese-owned company has a 15-year logging contract with villagers. The logs were loaded on the MV Tropical Star, a cargo ship that left Liberia on March 16 and arrived in China on May 26, according to the vessel information provider Marine Traffic. Satellite images show cranes offloading the logs.

The second part of this series found that West Water owed the community forests in Bassa and another in Nimba over US$100,000, a violation of a payment regulation.

The FDA dismissed the investigation, calling it an  “intentional misinterpretation” of the facts, and an alleged smear campaign.

But additional evidence gathered from three visits to the forest and interviews with villagers knowledgeable about West Water’s operations corroborates the first investigation. Also, a relook at the LiberTrace analysis and other documents provided additional clues.

The DayLight traced several of the problematic logs to the stumps of trees from which they were harvested, using identification tags from the LiberTrace document. Once reporters matched the tag of red-flagged logs in the document to stumps, they measured the corresponding stumps with a tape rule, videotaping the process.  

For instance, reporters traced one tree tagged “AF402RXT” that was red-flagged for multiple problems, including its size. When the reporters measured it, the reporters found the diameter of the tree was 65 centimeters. That is 10 centimeters less than the figure on the export permit and 15 centimeters less than the FDA-approved size for that species, dahoma (Piptadeniastrum africanum).

‘We will be the loser’

Unlike the tree stumps, reporters faced no difficulty in finding other pieces of evidence of undersized logs. A sea of immature logs with West Water tags decorated the forest and the roads leading to it.

A stump of one of the logs LiberTrace red-flagged for being unauthorizedly felled, undersized and other things. The DayLight/Emmanuel Sherman

Villagers, including those knowledgeable about West Water’s operation, said undersized logs were a normal thing there.

“I saw many trees that did not reach the complete diameter and they harvested them,” said Isaac Doe, a villager and an ex-West Water worker.

“If they keep cutting the under-diameter trees, we will set up [a] roadblock and stop them,” said Isaac Jimmy, an elder of that region.

“We will be the loser when they continue felling young trees,” added James Kawee, one of the community forest leaders.

Evidence of undersized logs lay bare in the forest but hid in plain sight in the LiberTrace analysis. When reporters took a closer look at the document, they made a stunning discovery.

Of the 413 problematic logs, 217 were below their harvesting sizes, known in forestry as the diameter cut limit. A total of 266 had been harvested without the FDA’s approval, the sources of 46 logs were unknown, and 55 had no GPS coordinates for tracking purposes. Each log had multiple legality issues.

All of the problematic logs were harvested in two weeks between late January and mid-February, during the post-elections transition.

There were five rounds of harvesting. The first occurred on January 29 with a mammoth 251 logs. It was followed the next day with 11 and the day after 25. Harvesting resumed on February 12 with 106 logs and the following day with 10.

Some villagers said they witnessed West Water felled and transported the wood at night. Their accounts are consistent with LiberTrace, which shows some felling occurred between 8 pm and 9 pm.

“I want the government to implement their rules and regulations to stop them,” said John Flomo, an elder in Paygar Town, one of 14 towns and villages that own the forest.  

Reporters filmed West Water trucks transporting logs at night on a major route during their third visit to the forest. FDA’s regulation on timber traceability prohibits nightly transport of logs on public roads. West Water did not respond to queries for comments on this story.

Undersized logs adorned West Water’s contract area of the District Three B&C Community Forest in Grand Bassa County. The DayLight/Emmanuel Sherman

LiberTrace is a crucial component of timber traceability or the chain of custody system. Meant to prevent illegal wood from entering domestic and international markets, the system traces logs from their origins to their final destinations. The European Union and the United Kingdom funded LiberTrace.

But that was not all the evidence The DayLight gathered. The investigation found that West Water did not have a harvesting certificate when the felling took place. The one Merab shared with The DayLight was not signed by then Managing Director Mike Doryen or a deputy.

The invalid certificate ran from March to September last year and the valid one runs for the same period this year. Once more, this proves that all 413 logs West Water harvested in January and February this year were illegal, even by the FDA’s lowered standards.

A portion of the District Three B&C Community Forest in Wee District, Grand Bassa County. The DayLight/Philip Quwebin

That likely explains why LiberTrace red-flagged the dates all the 413 problematic logs were felled. It also appears to explain why the FDA’s legality verification department (LVD) provided a flawed breakdown of LiberTrace’s warnings.  

“Out of 797 logs, 50 percent are traceable with red label because of diameter…,” Gertrude Nyaley, the Deputy Managing Director for Operations, who was the technical manager of LVD at the time of the export, handwrote the document.

“Based on the above results, we recommend that West Water… export permit be issued.”

Nyaley reduced the magnitude of the issues LiberTrace highlighted. The computer had listed up to 13 legality issues with the logs, including unauthorized harvesting.

The LiberTrace screenshot of the logs’ history shows West Water requested the export several hours before conducting the last harvesting.

Christian Barh, an LVD staff, rejected the request on February 19, 2024, by 3:03 PM, citing “major traceability errors.”

From L-R: FDA Managing Director Rudolph Merab approved the illegal timber, based on Deputy Managing Director Gertrude Nyaley’s advice. The DayLight/Harry Browne

The next day, Barh accepted the request and passed it on to Theodore Nna, SGS’ forestry project manager. SGS is a Swiss verification firm that built and powers LiberTrace.  Nna okayed the request less than 48 hours later. Rudolph Merab would approve the illegal export in one of his first acts as the Managing Director of the FDA.  

Nna flouted SGS’ sustainability standards by endorsing the export. The standards ensure traders and users that the timber they trade or use comes from sustainably managed forests, according to SGS’ website. Nna did not respond to emailed queries for comment on this story.

Cover-up exposed

Merab claims the errors and warnings were usual, and that some of them were corrected. “After log yard verification and physical scaling, the log will be exported,” Merab told The DayLight in a letter. “It’s a normal occurrence and we are open to [verifying] such an occurrence with you the DayLight.” 

Those comments are not backed by facts. The export permit spec, which details the information on each log in the consignment, shows the issues were never fixed.

“[Merab’s] explanation is in line with the SOP but in contradiction of the action on the export permit approved,” one chain of custody expert, who prefers anonymity over fear of retribution, said.

“If and only if measures were taken to do the timber yard correction, this action could not reflect in the approved export permit.”  

The expert was referencing LVD’s standard operating procedures (SOPs), which require errors corrected at different levels, not only during export. For instance, the FDA’s felling SOP requires LVD to ensure a company corrects any errors LiberTrace catches upon felling.

Several documents the FDA provided contain inconsistencies, suggesting they were forged as part of an all-around cover-up.

One document is dated 2019 and 2024, listing Nyaley as head of LVD. Nyaley was the technical manager of the community forestry department that year, appointed to LVD in 2022. And West Water did not have a contract in Grand Bassa or anywhere in 2019, at least not a direct one.

Another document puts West Water’s export (3,275 logs) above its production (2,782). That is a difference of 493 logs.

Unlike for the initial investigation, Merab did not respond to The DayLight’s queries for comments on this story. He did not grant the newspaper’s access to West Water’s contract and harvesting maps, guaranteed under various legal provisions. The FDA had said it would not return future questions from DayLight regarding export permits.

A screenshot of LiberTrace’s history of the 797 logs shows the FDA some of the trees were still standing when West Water requested to export them. It took the FDA’s legality verification department less than 48 hours to approve the request after rejecting it over “major traceability errors.”

By approving the export, the FDA violated its laws.

Cutting trees without authorization and harvesting undersized logs constitute a fine per the FDA’s confiscated logs regulation. A violating company faces a fine of two times the value of the illegal logs and a public auctioning of the wood. That means West Water would have paid more revenue for the March export.

Jonathan Yiah, the lead forestry campaigner at the Sustainable Development Institute, criticized the FDA for not confiscating the logs and undermining LiberTrace’s credibility.  

“Focusing on enforcement,” Yiah said, “will demonstrate and ensure both revenue generation and sustainable management and harvesting of our forest resources.”

[Emmanuel Sherman and Philip Quwebin contributed to this report]

The story was a production of the Community of Forest and Environmental Journalists of Liberia (CoFEJ).

Illegal Logging Case Undermines Forestry Laws – Watchdog


Top: Some of the woods at the center of a legal battle between the Forestry Development Authority and Renaissance Group Incorporated. Photo credit: Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors (CSIFM)

By Mark B. Newa

MONROVIA – A group of civil society organizations in the forestry sector has condemned a logging company for undermining forestry laws and other regulations.

Renaissance Group Incorporated illegally harvesting timber products outside Timber Sales Contract Area Two (TSC-A2) in District Number One, Grand Bassa County.

“Illegal logging outside Liberia’s legal and regulatory framework and exporting of illegally sourced timber is a failure of the rule of law and this undermines Liberia’s efforts towards attaining FLEGT VPA license,” the Independent Forest Monitoring Coordination Mechanism said in a statement on Saturday.

Renaissance and another company called Freedom Group Liberia subcontracted TSC-A2, which was acquired by Tarpeh Timber Company back in 2009.    

In 2018-19 Renaissance and Freedom Group illegally logged at least 14,000 cubic meters of timber worth an estimated US$4.4 million at the time on the international market, according to a 2021 investigation by the group.

Nine thousand cubic meters of illegally logged timber was exported already in 2019 at an estimated value of US$2.8 million at the international market value between January and July 2019.

Jonathan Yiah of the Sustainable Development Institute, right and Abraham Billy, left of the Independent Forest Monitoring Coordination Mechanismteam/The DayLight/Mark B. Newa

In July 2020, a French consortium hired by the European Union reported that timber felling associated with TSC-A2 was largely uncontrolled. Liberia and the EU signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement, which commits Liberia to develop and implement systems that ensure that timber exports to European Union countries are legally sourced.

The Ministry of Justice and the Forestry Development Authority conducted their own inquest, which confirmed that Renaissance illegally harvested valuable Ekki wood in the Doe Clan, some six kilometers outside the TSC-A2 concession.

Renaissance has reportedly planned to export the rest of the timber it illegally harvested based on the ruling of the court authorizing the FDA to permit the company to ship.

“[Renaissance] is now in the process of completing export of the remaining logs now that the Court has instructed the FDA to authorize exporting these logs, followed by an order of the Supreme Court,” according to Jonathan Yiah of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI).

Yiah said the processes leading to the harvesting and subsequent exportation of timber products by the company circumvent the law.

“As long as the illegal logging connected to TSC-A2 remains unresolved, sustainable forest management is being undermined. It clearly validates statements that Liberia’s forest sector is replete with illegalities,” Yiah told reporters.

On January 13, last year, the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Buchanan has started enforcing its ruling of January 13, 2022, in favor of RGI against the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The court said it could not subject Renaissance to “double jeopardy,” a legal phrase for punishing an individual twice for the same offense.

The CSO group blamed the FDA liable for not appropriately referring the case to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution “because the offense significantly harms the interest of local communities.”

The group lauded the action of the French General Society of Surveillance (SGS) refusal to enroll the logs in question into the chain of custody systems, “categorizing them as illegal logs under Liberia’s forestry legal requirements.”

The group urged the government of Liberia to ensure that the laws of Liberia, especially, forestry laws are respected and enforced at all times.  

The remaining member CSOs of the group are Liberia Forest Media Watch, Civil Society Independent Forest Monitor, National Union of Community Forest Management Body, National Union of Community Forest Development Committee, Foundation for Community Initiative and Save My Future Foundation.

Inside Minister Cooper Kruah’s Illegal Logging Deals


Top: A man brushes grass from a pile of logs illegally harvested by Universal Forestry Corporation, a company started and still owned by Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Cooper Kruah. The DayLIght/James Harding Giahyue 

By James Harding Giahyue

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series on Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Cooper Kruah’s conflict of interest as a shareholder in Universal Forestry Corporation. It focuses on Minister Kruah’s illegal logging dealings.    

TAPPITA, Nimba County – At the end of a 20-minute motorcycle ride from a town called Korlay, lie dozens of logs on a rocky, bushy road into the forest.

“That’s just small you see here. There are more in the bush,” one man tells my colleague Gabriel Dixon, our two motorcycle-taxi riders and me, as he cleared grass from a pile of logs. We cannot name him and other villagers we will interview over their fear of retribution.

We are in the Sehzueplay Community Forest in the Tappita District of Nimba County, where Universal Forestry Corporation (UFC) operates. The company signed an agreement with villages here in 2020 to share logging resources for 12 years. Last month, an investigation by The DayLight found that the Minister of Posts and Telecommunication Cooper Kruah is one of the owners of the company, rendering the agreement illegal.  Kruah has admitted to being in a conflict of interest over his continued role in the company for more than four years since he became a government official.  

But we have come here to uncover more of UFC’s violations, beginning with these logs it harvested in this part of the Gio National Forest. The leadership of Sehzueplay says the woods were cut between October 2020 and November last year, and records from the harvesting corroborate this timeline.

The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) did not approve the harvesting, according to a January 21, 2022 memo from a ranger to Jin Kyung, UFC’s general manager, we have obtained.  

“During our recent visit to your concession area, we discovered that you were doing illegal [felling]. You are felling [trees] without being awarded a [felling] certificate,” the memo reads, signed by Steve Kromah, the ranger responsible for forest contracts in the Tappita area.

“In view of the above, you are hereby ordered closed with immediate [effect], pending advice from the FDA management,” it says.

Kromah had said in an earlier interview with The DayLight in Buchanan that he had halted the company’s operations because “Their felling certificates are all expired.” Now, he accuses us of misunderstanding his initial comments on the matter.

“Maybe I don’t know English but that is what I mean. Maybe you don’t understand forestry language very well but what I wrote is what you’re seeing there,” Kromah says in a phone call.

“When management asks me, I will know how to answer. Management will understand it that way. You cannot understand it. I didn’t write it to you,” he adds and hung up the phone. He has been reassigned, according to sources familiar with a recent wave of reshuffles at the FDA over illegal logging.   

Unauthorized harvesting is a violation of the Code of Harvesting Practices. (That is the same offense another company committed in River Cess) UFC is required to pay a fine of twice the total value of the volume of each species of logs illegally harvested as per their world market prices, according to the Regulation on Confiscated Logs, Timber and Timber Products.   

The FDA will, however, have to obtain a court order to confiscate and auction the logs but it must first find out the total volume of the illegally harvested logs. Partial data of the harvesting we obtained shows 150 logs, but the community leadership estimate there are 200 more woods. Some of them are in good shape but others have defects, indicating it would be difficult to auction them.

UFC also did not conduct an environmental and social impact assessment in 2020 for its operations in Sehzueplay, according to the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI). That again contravenes the  Code of Harvesting Practices, which sets it as a prerequisite for felling trees. The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA), the government institution that oversees the assessment,  did not grant us an interview on the matter up to writing time.

Logs Universal Forestry Corporation, owned by Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Cooper Kruah, abandoned scores of logs in Tappita, Nimba County. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue   

That would not be UFC’s only violation, though. The company subcontracted another firm called Ihsaan Logs Company (ILC) with neither the approval of the FDA nor the consent of the community. ILC is managed and owned by Mohammed Paasewe, the former Superintendent of Grand Cape Mount County.  

In fact, ILC-hired loggers harvested some of the logs we see in the forest, according to communications between the two companies seen by The DayLight. Logs with “UFC/ILC”  markings shine through wet, towering grass, back that evidence. 

UFC and ILC had signed the illegal agreement in November last year, the documents, seen by The DayLight, show. The deal was torn apart, less than two months later due to disagreements over payments and equipment, according to the documents.  

“We have resolved to inform [you] that as of the date of this letter, the [proposed] agreement is off our table for negotiation, and that we are advising you to immediately recall all of your personnel/employees that were sent to our concession areas,” a January 31, 2022 letter from UFC  to ILC reads. “We also reserve the right to demand payment for our yellow machine that you used… during your operation.”

Paasewe replies to an unnamed representative of UFC with a series of requests for repayment of fees his company had paid UFC in a WhatsApp chat seen by The DayLight.  

“What happened to the US$1,200 that you received before… (US$700 for the visit of his computer man to attend a meeting [a] in Tappita, US$500 to stop the mechanics from taking parts from his machine)?

“What happened to the US$300 to bring electricity to his house, US$300 to finish his preparation for the new place, US$400 for the repair of the pickup and US$300 for documentation, and also who pays the US$500 for the advance payment for the repair of the D8 [bulldozer]?

Paasewe alleges in the exchange that Kyung had told him that Sehzueplay had 19,000 hectares of forestland, not the 6,890 hectares it covers in reality.

Kyung replies to Paasewe roughly two weeks after his previous letter, agreeing to repay ILC US$10,850 in March, which Paasewe says has not happened five months on. Efforts to speak to Kyung did not materialize. He did not reply to emailed questions on his deal with ILC and other issues as well. We called him twice but he said he was in the forest and had no access to a computer or internet.

As part of their deal, ILC was supposed to pay UFC US$200,000 as an advance payment on the sales of logs at the rate of US$30 per cubic meter, regardless of the species. (Logs are priced based on their species) In return, ILC agreed to harvest at least 1,500 cubic meters of logs each of the remaining 10 years of the contract.

An illegal logging deal between Universal Forestry Corporation and its Ihsaan Logs Company failed over payments and equipment. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

Then the parties settled to delay the construction of the headquarters of the community’s leadership and a school building— both due last year—by two and three years, respectively, the unapproved agreement shows.

“That is why we did not sign that document. “It was not in our interest,” Moses Wobuah, the head of the community leadership, tells us in an interview at his home in Korlay, one of seven towns and villages affected by UFC’s unlawful operations. Volay, Zeongehn, Zuolay, Graie, and Sehye Village complete the list.

“That document is null and void. It is not legal,” Wobuah adds.  

The CEO of ILC is another layer of illegality. Paasewe was dismissed as superintendent in 2015 by then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for “misuse of public funds.” However, he criminally collected US$11,215.63 and L$293,980 as superintendent in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, according to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). He restituted US$5,000 of the money in an out-of-court settlement, the LACC reported at the time.

Paasewe has not repaid the full amount he embezzled. “We are in the process,” he tells me in an interview at his office in Monrovia. “I don’t want to have those kinds of things hanging over my head. I want to get that out of the way.”

Having admitted to theft barely a year before his UFC subcontract, Paasewe’s company is ineligible for any logging operations, according to the National Forestry Reform Law. Businesspeople who concede to such a crime are barred by the law from any kind of forest resource license for five years.

ILC applied for prequalification to do logging in Liberia last year but has not been approved, according to Paasewe and sources at the FDA. The agency did not provide The DayLight copies of ILC’s application documents, though public access to such information is guaranteed under the National Forestry Reform Law and the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Liberia and the European Union. The FDA had flouted its own Regulation on Bidder Qualifications by initially prequalifying UFC for Sehzueplay with the Postmaster General of the Republic of Liberia one of its shareholders.

Paasewe says he is willing to relinquish his shares in ILC or place them in a firm or a person he has no control over to be in line with the law.

“We’re going to have to do an overhauling. When we are reapplying, you can be assured of that,” he says.

“I am grateful for the work you do because this will keep everybody’s foot to the fire to do what is right. Whether we are victims or whatever, I think when you are called to order, you should always be ready to correct and do your best. What you are trying to save is not for me but for the generation coming after me,” he adds.    

Paasewe’s criminal record worsens things for UFC.  Like conflict of interest, its unauthorized transfer of the agreement to ILC is another ground for termination of its contract, according to the forestry reform law.

Kruah already faces a fine between US$10,000 and up to three times the money he has received from UFC if he is convicted in a mandatory lawsuit. Now, he faces a US$2,000 fine and a 24-month prison term over UFC’s mining deals in this same Tappita region. And he faces suspension or dismissal for breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, the same offense the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) alleges the Minister of Agriculture Jeannie Cooper committed.

Kruah, a lawyer, claims that turning over his five-percent shares to Prince Kruah, his son, also a lawyer, prevents him from a conflict of interest. “His son is above the constitutional decision-making age and he even [owns] more shares than his father, which is his right under the Constitution of Liberia,” says Caesar Slapeh, a spokesman of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in a Facebook message to The DayLight.

But that is not what the law says. It mandates an official of the government to relinquish their shares in private companies doing business with the government to an “entity outside the person’s influence and control, such as an unrelated individual or a blind trust…” With Prince Kruah’s 15 percent equity in UFC, according to the company’s “amended” article of incorporation, Minister Kruah now has more stakes in the company and is in starker contrast with the law.

Owned by Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Cooper Kruah, Universal Forestry Corporation has failed to build a school, a road, and provide scholarships for towns and villages affected by its operations. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

Most of the violations we find mirror UFC’s role in the infamous Private Use Permit (PUP) Scandal of 2012, in which some 2.5 million hectares of forests were illegally awarded to logging companies. An official inquest found the company committed several offenses while logging in Butaw District, Sinoe County between 2010 and 2012. That investigation found that UFC did not conduct an environmental and social impact assessment, skipped an environmental permit, did not present a harvesting certificate before commencing logging and that it paid community benefits into a personal account, among other things. UFC’s permit and 62 others were canceled in what remains the biggest scandal to engulf the forestry sector since the end of the Liberian Civil War (1989-2003).

Delayed payments

Amid these violations, UFC has not lived up to the agreement it signed with Sehzueplay, another legal reason for the cancelation of its contract. The company owes the community land-rental fees and an unspecified amount from logs it has harvested in the 6,890-hectare woodland, according to Wobuah. In addition to the school building and leadership quarter in that illegal deal with ILC, UFC has failed to pave a 19-kilometer road, provide drinking water sources and an annual US$4,000 for scholarships.

Official records of the company’s payments corroborate the community’s account. UFC owes both the community and the Liberian government US$155,000, according to the joint implementation committee of the VPA. That is the second-highest debt owned by a company operating in a community forest. Only Liberia Tree and Timber Trading Company (LTTC) has more, US$269,007.  

Nanleh Vaye, a member of Sehzueplay’s leadership says  UFC has had struggles with equipment.  He tells us that disgruntle workers of the company months earlier stole parts from its earthmovers in an apparent disagreement over wages. We see four of the machines parked in the area: two at its office in Korlay and two others on the route leading to the logs. They look like they have not moved for a long time.  

“They have not sold one piece of logs from that forest,” Vaye says. “We agreed to give them chance until they can sell.”

But you can sense the general frustration over the UFC among villagers. They have known about Kruah’s ownership of UFC but had thought it would work in their interest as a lawyer and native of Sehzueplay.  

“Cooper Kruah said he wanted jobs for Doe Administrative District,” one villager says. UFC has held several mining claims predominantly in this area, the focus of our next investigation on Kruah’s illegal businesses.    

“He’s [a] shareholder of the community and legal advisor for the community,” says another, “but he takes the company over us.”

The Forestry Development Authority (FDA), did not grant The DayLight an interview on the company’s illegal operations. We made the first request in a letter on the 27th of last month and followed up with an email more than two weeks after. Managing Director Mike Doryen had said in a phone conversation, “Rest assured, we will take the appropriate action. I will not protect any official of government who breaks the law.”

This story was a production of the Community of Forest and Environmental Journalists of Liberia (CoFEJ).