In June 2008, Brazilian newspapers and TV stations, and international media, reported false allegations about Mr Johan Eliasch in relation to an ‘investigation’ by the Brazilian environment protection organisation IBAMA in to ‘illegal logging’ by Gethal, a company acquired by Johan Eliasch in late 2005.
The investigation concerned allegations of breaches of reporting requirements in one of many land areas owned by Mr Eliasch, which would have resulted in approximately Reais 280 million ($140 million) fines for the company Gethal. At the time Mr Eliasch served as the Special Representative of the Prime Minister of United Kingdom on Deforestation and Clean Energy. Mr Eliasch's name appeared in press releases by the Brazilian authorities, despite the fact the fines/investigation were issued by IBAMA against the company Gethal and not Mr. Eliasch personally.
The investigation was closed by IBAMA in 2013, after IBAMA concluded that they had no basis for legal or administrative procedures against Gethal, and the fines were cancelled.
The media reports falsely suggested that the alleged breaches concerned illegal deforestation by Johan Eliasch, when the alleged breaches concerned non-compliance of reporting requirements by the company Gethal under its previous ownership. No allegations or investigations were ever made against Mr Eliasch, and IBAMA never alleged or claimed environmental damages or illegal deforestation by Gethal.
Mr Eliasch served his full term 2007-2010 as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Deforestation and Clean Energy.
Mr Eliasch is a large owner of rainforest in Brazil, a country he loves, advocating for years for the protection of the Amazon rainforest. He had been, and still is one of the main advocates of the idea that, the best way to ensure the preservation of rainforest, is to create means to make the forests more valuable standing than cut down.
Back in 2008, the Brazilian government was led by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the PT Workers' Party, who has later been jailed for corruption and money laundering. Lula's party had strong links with farmers and cattle ranchers, for whom the rainforest conservation schemes were considered disruptive.
Mr. Eliasch was also commissioned by HM Government to undertake an independent review on the role of international finance mechanisms to preserve global forests in tackling climate change, “The Eliasch Review” which was launched in September 2008.
Since the beginning of its operations, Gethal strictly followed procedures dictated by laws and other rules relating to the protection of the environment. The company received all environmental permits necessary for the proper conduct of its activities. Gethal historic operations had been based on "Sustainable Forest Management Plans for Multiple Use," produced by multidisciplinary teams and approved by the competent environmental agencies, all in strict compliance with the terms of the environmental legislation in force.
Due to its environmentally exemplary conduct, Gethal was one of the first and few companies in Brazil to meet the strict and complex requirements necessary to obtain certification by the Forest Stewardship Council - FSC, an international Non-Governmental Organization which establishes the highest standards of forest management and sustainability worldwide.
A company beneficially owned by Johan Eliasch acquired Gethal in late 2005 from GMO, a Boston based hedge fund spearheaded by environmentalist Jeremy Grantham. However, immediately following the change of ownership, Mr Eliasch decided to stop all of Gethal’s logging operation and started his conservation scheme to protect rainforest, giving the local indigenous people harvesting rights to fruits and nuts as well as helping with local community initiatives.
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