Watchdog Says Vietnamese Officials Bribed by Log Smugglers

A large portrait of Ho Chi Minh hangs in display Nov. 11 in front of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

BANGKOK — An environmental watchdog organization is accusing Vietnamese government and military officials of taking payoffs to ignore smuggling of expensive lumber from neighboring Cambodia.

A report issued Monday by the U.K.-based Environmental Investigation Agency charges that millions of dollars in bribes have been paid by Vietnamese timber traders to both Vietnamese and Cambodian officials. It said the Vietnamese officials are paid off in exchange for granting import quotas for the timber and Cambodians are paid to open up logging areas and smuggling routes.

Cambodia has banned log exports and since early 2016 has closed its border with Vietnam to timber as well. However, Vietnam has official quotas for such imports, which are also taxed.