Illegal rosewood logs

Laos Seizes Cache of Illegal Logs Owned by Governor’s Wife: Official

State inspection authorities in Laos have seized more than two dozen trucks after they were found to be hauling timber illegally logged by the wife of the governor of Attapeu province for sale across the border in Vietnam, according to an official source.

The source, who inspects timber in the southern provinces of Laos, told RFA’s Lao Service Tuesday that the 27 trucks of logs owned by governor Nam Viyaketh’s wife Seng Viyaketh have been held since May at the Phoukeua International Border Checkpoint, which regulates crossings into western Vietnam’s Kon Tum province.

“The timber belongs to the governor [and was seized] while the trucks were being processed to pass the checkpoint to Vietnam,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The officials inspected thoroughly and found that all the timber in the 27 trucks was illegal, so the president of the Government Inspection Authority, Bounthong Chitmany, ordered its seizure and appropriation by the state, though an auction has not yet been scheduled.”

Bounthong Chitmany is also the deputy prime minister of Laos, a high-ranking politburo member, and the head of the country’s Anti-Corruption Organisation.

The official said that the Prime Minister’s Office had also sent a notice to the State Inspection Authority on May 16 ordering it to send a unit to investigate the 27 trucks and seize them if their timber was found to have been illegally obtained.

Seng Viyaketh dismissed the accusation that she owned the illegally harvested timber seized in Attapeu in an interview with RFA on Thursday.

“I confirm that I am not involved in the seized timber—that is a rumor and disparaging me, so I am willing to be interviewed [to deny it],” she said.

“My answer is that this is groundless condemnation. Whoever said should show their evidence … because I have never run a timber business.”

An official who answered the phone at Attapeu’s Provincial Cabinet office Thursday said Nam Viyaketh was in a meeting and could not speak to RFA.

Vice chairman of the State Inspection Authority Xaikham Ounmany refused to comment on the seized trucks when contacted by RFA, while repeated calls to Khenthong Sisouvong, the vice governor of Attapeu province, rang unanswered.

Full story:

Reported and translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Copyright © 1998-2017, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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