Lumber Liquidators Largest Flooring Retailer Settles with Department of Justice Over Violation of the Lacey Act
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Announced today, Lumber Liquidators, the largest hardwood flooring retailer in the United States, pleads guilty to violations of the Lacey Act among other charges, will pay more than $10 million in penalties to the Department of Justice, and will be placed on a 5 year probationary period while it implements an environmental compliance plan.
In response to this announcement, Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, Alexander von Bismarck issued the following statement:
“This is the first time that a major U.S. corporation is found guilty of a criminal felony for smuggling wood, related to violations of the U.S. Lacey Act. It’s a long time coming, and urgently needed to protect the U.S. consumer from unknowingly financing organized crime and the destruction of the last virgin forests on earth.”
“A $10 million fine is small compared to the destruction caused in the forests, but the real cost to the company will come from having to forego cheap, stolen wood in their supply chain while the DOJ looks over their shoulder. This will be a major adjustment.”
Key facts about the case:
According to the plea agreement, Lumber Liquidators “will plead guilty because the defendant is in fact guilty of the charged offenses.” Lumber Liquidators plead guilty to one criminal felony count of entry of goods by means of false statements and four misdemeanor counts of violating the Lacey Act. The company agrees to pay $7.8 million in fines to the Lacey fund, $1.2 million Community Service payments and $969 thousand in forfeited proceeds. The DOJ found that Lumber Liquidators committed systemic fraud and sourced illegal timber from the Russian Far East and other high risk countries.
EIA was the first organization to expose Lumber Liquidators of importing illegally harvested timber in its 2013 report, Liquidating the Forests. Posing as timber buyers, EIA investigators went undercover to expose the illegal wood trade in the Russian Far East and traced the supply chains through China to a company that admitted to illegal logging, paying bribes, and that its single biggest trading partner was Lumber Liquidators. EIA’s report also relied on publically available trade data, copies of court cases from Russian authorities, scientific analyses, and shipment records.