Taiga King: How European firms fed a Russian tycoon's billion-dollar illegal logging scam

16.12.2020

A new Earthsight investigation has revealed how European firms received 100,000 tonnes of suspect lumber linked to one of Russia's largest illegal logging scandals. 

The year-long investigation, Taiga King, charts the rise and extraordinary fall of timber giant BM Group and its powerful boss Alexander Pudovkin. 

Under Pudovkin's watch, BM Group amassed vast forest and funds through corrupt deals for a botched sawmill project in far eastern Russia. The shady practices handed the tycoon control of a business empire which at its height covered an area of forest nearly as big as Belgium.

Loggers used their powers to plunder precious taiga forests home to brown bears, wolves and lynx, harvesting illegal wood with a retail value exceeding €870 million ($1 billion).

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