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Timber company agrees to pay $375,000 to resolve overharvesting claims

Timber company agrees to pay $375,000 to resolve overharvesting claims | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The State of Vermont has settled a major forestry case with Plum Creek Maine Timberlands, LLC (Plum Creek) for $375,000. This settlement resolves claims that Plum Creek overharvested trees in violation of its forest management plan. The settlement resolves a case that began in 2010 when Plum Creek was found to have overharvested trees from their property. Due to this violation, the State removed a parcel of Plum Creek’s forest land from Vermont’s Current Use Program. The Current Use Program allows lands producing timber or agricultural products to be appraised based on those uses rather than the commercial value of the property. Last fall, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreations’ finding that Plum Creek had violated its forest management plan by overharvesting trees. The matter was remanded back to the Superior Court to determine the tax consequences of the violation.

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In addition to the $375,000 payment to the State, under the terms of the settlement, the State will re-enroll the property in the Current Use Program for 2017. The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation visited the overharvested area in July 2017 and confirmed that it is presently in compliance with Plum Creek’s forest management plan. Under a recent corporate merger, the Weyerhaeuser Company has succeeded Plum Creek as the owner of the property.

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Oregon drops several defenses in $1.4 billion timber lawsuit

Oregon drops several defenses in $1.4 billion timber lawsuit | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The State of Oregon has conceded that a class action lawsuit seeking $1.4 billion for insufficient timber harvests isn’t blocked by the statute of limitations.

The state government has also dropped its argument that county governments and local taxing districts don’t have legal standing to sue Oregon for alleged breach of contract.

Last year, Linn County filed a lawsuit accusing Oregon of violating contracts with 15 counties by reducing logging on about 650,000 acres of forestland the counties had donated to the state.

The lawsuit was certified as a class action by Linn County Circuit Judge Daniel Murphy, which means the 15 counties and roughly 150 taxing districts, such as schools and fire departments, were joined as plaintiffs in the case.

Since then, Clatsop County’s government and Clatsop County Community College have opted out of the lawsuit while other taxing districts within Clatsop County have not.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs had asked the judge to eliminate 12 “affirmative defenses” intended to shield the State of Oregon from the class action lawsuit.

During oral arguments on April 20, Oregon’s attorneys agreed to drop several of these defenses, including the expiration of statute of limitations, the plaintiffs’ lack of legal standing and the court’s lack of jurisdiction over the case.

However, Oregon’s attorneys also argued for the validity of remaining defenses, such as the claim that the federal Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act preclude the level of logging sought by the plaintiffs.

Counties turned over the forestlands in the early 20th Century in return for a share of timber revenues, but plaintiffs claim Oregon has curtailed logging due to environmental and recreational considerations.
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Second lawsuit filed over Forest Service’s PolyMet land swap

Second lawsuit filed over Forest Service’s PolyMet land swap | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Minnesota-based WaterLegacy on Monday filed suit in U.S. District Court against the U.S. Forest Service seeking to overturn the agency’s approval of a 6,650-acre land swap for the PolyMet copper mine site.

The environmental group says the approval earlier this month “violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act because it failed to consider the highest and most profitable use of the lands for mining related uses, significantly undervalued the federal lands, and would result in a windfall for the PolyMet foreign corporation at the expense of Minnesota taxpayers and public lands.”

The 20-page lawsuit filed in Minnesota claims, “The Forest Service’s failure to appraise the market value of the federal lands … as a whole property, failure to value the lands according to their most profitable, feasible, probable and intended use for mining related purposes, and failure to value the lands based on the most comparable Northeastern Minnesota transactions by mining companies in the private market reflected a willful blindness of the Forest Service to the intended use of the federal property; was neither reasonable nor credible.”


PolyMet needs the Forest Service land between Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt because it sits on top of the deposit of copper, nickel and other valuable metals the company wants to dig — the first copper mine ever in Minnesota. In exchange for the mine site, PolyMet purchased and is trading to the federal government an equal amount of undeveloped land within the border of the Superior National Forest.

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Families Reach $60 Million in Landslide Settlements

Families Reach $60 Million in Landslide Settlements | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Survivors and family members of people killed in the nation's deadliest landslide have reached $60 million in settlements with the state of Washington and a timber company that logged an area above the site of the collapse.

Just as opening statements were due to begin in a Seattle courtroom Monday, Grandy Lake Forest Associates agreed to settle liability claims for $10 million. The announcement came just after the state on Sunday reached a $50 million deal with the plaintiffs.

The slide on March 22, 2014, killed 43 people when it wiped out a rural neighborhood in Oso, northeast of Seattle. Survivors and relatives of the victims alleged that logging above the slide and construction of a retaining wall along a bank where the Stillaguamish River undercut the hill increased the danger, and residents were never warned about it.

Pam Sanford, whose brother was killed, called it a "huge relief" that she wouldn't have to sit through the trial, which had been expected to last nearly four months.
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Lawsuit over fireline seeks to curb forest firefighting tactics

Lawsuit over fireline seeks to curb forest firefighting tactics | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The rush by the U.S. Forest Service to cut a fireline through critical fish and wildlife habitat to fight a fire that never came anywhere near has spurred a lawsuit in federal court.

Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), a Eugene, Ore.-based nonprofit, filed the lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Spokane. It seeks to rescind a 2008 regulation that allows the Forest Service to suspend all environmental laws when it fights fire, if fire managers declare a state of emergency.


The suit also would require a review of the agency’s firefighting program to assess the effectiveness of its tactics and their effect on people and the environment.

Firefighting would continue as usual during the course of the review but could be subject to new restrictions as a result of it.
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How A Tech Billionaire’s Biofuel Dream Went Bad

How A Tech Billionaire’s Biofuel Dream Went Bad | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

It’s a factory in the sleepy city of Columbus, Miss., that was briefly able to turn wood chips into a biofuel that could power vehicles more cleanly than oil, using a first-of-its-kind technology that wowed engineers, politicians, and investors.

 

The plant’s supporters once envisioned it as the embodiment of a clean-energy future. The company that owned it was valued at more than $1.5 billion, and its shares publicly traded. The factory, the first of several planned in the state, was intended to employ hundreds of workers and create new demand for the state’s timber industry.

 

But on a hot, sunny afternoon in October, the factory is a dead zone. Long weeds have sprouted up around an empty parking lot. No workers are operating any machinery. The plant hasn’t produced any biocrude in close to two years. Days before, a big chunk of the facility was sold for $2.1 million. Another piece was unloaded weeks before that for $1.6 million. The plant, a former paper mill, had cost more than $215 million to buy and convert to green energy production.

 

The factory was run by a company called KiOR, which was once a symbol of the promise of the next generation of biofuels and the role that Silicon Valley and government could play in incubating clean-energy technology. Its soaring ambitions—and hype—largely stemmed from the imprimatur of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and the millions he had invested in it. All told, the company spent more than $600 million. In its brief time in operation, it generated $2.3 million in revenue; when it filed for bankruptcy it listed assets of $58.3 million.
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Unlike most failed startups, KiOR hasn’t just shut its doors and disappeared into oblivion. Today recriminations, investigations, and litigation continue to surround it. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been examining whether the company made false statements, including on a critical point: the yield of its biofuel (the amount that can be made per ton of wood chips). Two KiOR executives and Khosla himself are also facing a class action suit alleging that company executives misled investors about production volumes and yield.

 

The state of Mississippi is also suing Khosla and key KiOR executives on similar grounds, claiming they hoodwinked the state to obtain a $75 million loan. The case provides a striking image. One of the poorest states in the country, which received only $6 million of its money back before KiOR went bankrupt, is seeking to collect from a Silicon Valley billionaire.
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The list of biofuel startups backed by Khosla Ventures now reads like a catalogue of disappointments, vaporizing hundreds of millions of the firm’s money, along with millions in government funds. Range Fuels built a cellulosic ethanol plant using Khosla funding and millions from the DOE and the USDA. The company shut its factory in 2011. Another half-dozen biofuel startups backed by Khosla Ventures have failed to deliver significant results.

 

Two of the ones that looked successful early on, Gevo and Amyris, both went public. But today their shares are trading at a fraction of their initial value. In 2012, Amyris decided to move away from biofuels and focus on higher-margin specialty products. Other biofuel companies have done the same. One Khosla-backed biofuel company that has shown promise is LanzaTech, which turns industrial waste gases into biofuels and biochemicals. It has a demonstration-scale plant in China and plans for a commercial facility there.

 

Fewer than 2 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel were produced in the U.S. in 2015, according to the EPA. That’s a small fraction of the 3 billion gallons the agency had predicted in 2007 would be produced this year. Only four cellulosic fuel plants have been built and are in the commissioning phase in the U.S., according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. 

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Thanks to Jack Bridges @ risk-adjusted-returns for bringing this one to our attention.

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Linn County plans $1.4 billion class-action lawsuit over state forest management

Linn County plans $1.4 billion class-action lawsuit over state forest management | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
A county that claims the state mismanaged Oregon Forest Trust Lands and cost it and others millions of dollars in lost revenue for schools and public safety is threatening to file a class-action lawsuit seeking $1.4 billion.

Linn County notified the governor and state forester of its plans to sue on behalf of 14 other counties over breach of contract. It says Oregon has failed to live up to decades-old contracts that allow counties to receive payments based on annual timber harvests on state-managed lands.

The payments go toward local law enforcement, schools and other special county districts to help cover basic services.

“This breach of contract has had devastating effects on local communities that have seen both poverty and unemployment rates skyrocket in the last two decades as a result of current practices,” Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist said at a news conference.

Josh Laughlin, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene, said the county’s claims lack merit and called the arrangement of clear-cutting forests to fund essential services archaic.

“It appears the counties missed the memo that the state is not required to log to infinity in these state lands,” Laughlin said. “They also have a duty to protect clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and other values held closely by Oregonians.”

The state manages about 654,000 acres of Forest Trust Lands it purchased from the counties several decades ago. Linn County officials say a forest management plan adopted in 2001 emphasized improvements to fish and wildlife habitat and other conservation measures, which reduced logging and slashed timber revenue by half.

“We believe over time a delta has developed: the difference between what these lands could produce ... versus the production that is occurring,” said John DiLorenzo, an attorney at the Portland law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP who is representing Linn County.
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Prosecutors accuse timber company of deception in efforts to reverse forest fire settlement

Prosecutors accuse timber company of deception in efforts to reverse forest fire settlement | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Federal prosecutors in Sacramento accuse the state's largest timber company of deception in its efforts to reverse a $100 million settlement it agreed to pay over a wildfire that destroyed more than 100 square miles of forest in Northern California.

Court papers cited by the Sacramento Bee this week (http://bit.ly/1E9lX4r ) show the government contends Sierra Pacific Industries' efforts to overturn the settlement "lack integrity" and are based on false accusations. Prosecutors claim the company "only pretended to settle" the lawsuit it faced.

Officials have blamed the Shasta County company for the 2007 Moonlight Fire.

Last October, Sierra Pacific filed court papers accusing prosecutors of misconduct and unethical behavior in prosecuting the civil suit and said the settlement should be overturned because of "fraud upon the court."

Prosecutors rejected that claim.
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N.C. Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against Hofmann Forest sale

N.C. Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against Hofmann Forest sale | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Without a request from either side, without agreeing with either one and essentially without explanation, the N.C. Supreme Court has decided to toss out the lawsuit aimed at blocking N.C. State University endowment officials from selling the giant Hofmann Forest.

The court added the new twist to the roller-coaster saga of the land deal when it quietly issued a one-line ruling in the case Friday. The order said simply that it was dismissing the case "ex mero motu" or essentially of its own accord.

The deal to sell the 79,000-acre forest, which is near Jacksonville, fell through early this month when the buyers couldn't get financing for their $131 million offer.

NCSU officials said then that they planned to find another buyer and the plaintiffs --- a small group that includes environmentalists and foresters --- said they wanted to continue pursuing the case.

The court had already heard arguments and was thought to be close to a decision. That means the plaintiffs had fought for more than a year and spent the money --- about $50,000 --- it should have taken to get a final verdict, said plaintiff Ron Sutherland, a wildlife scientist.

Now if the university finds another buyer, it will have to spend more in a second quest for a court order to force NCSU to perform a full review of the environmental impact of selling Hofmann.
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Sierra Pacific levels corruption allegations in renewed legal fight over Moonlight fire

Sierra Pacific levels corruption allegations in renewed legal fight over Moonlight fire | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The incendiary legal battle over responsibility for the Moonlight wildfire, which scorched 65,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada seven years ago, has flared anew with charges of corruption and cover-up leveled at federal prosecutors, and state and federal investigators.


The allegations are contained in hundreds of pages of documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento seeking to wipe out a 2012 settlement calling for timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries to pay the federal government $47 million and deed it 22,500 acres of its land to compensate for the devastation of more than 40,000 acres in two national forests in Plumas and Lassen counties, as well as the U.S. Forest Service’s firefighting costs.
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The company contends federal prosecutors sat by in pretrial depositions and knowingly allowed the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and U.S. Forest Service investigators to “repeatedly lie under oath about the very foundation of their investigation.”
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One of the documents Sierra Pacific filed is a declaration from a veteran former assistant U.S. attorney, who says he was forced to give up his position as the government’s lead lawyer in the Moonlight case, apparently because he rebuffed pressure from a superior to “engage in unethical conduct as a lawyer.”


The declaration from E. Robert Wright says he was bounced out of the case by his boss, David Shelledy, chief of the civil division in the U.S. attorney’s office, and replaced by a prosecutor with no previous experience in wildland fire recovery cases.
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Although Sierra Pacific agreed to a settlement in 2012 to end its legal fight with federal authorities, it has always contended the fire investigation was flawed and that investigators manipulated evidence and lied under oath about where and how the blaze began.


According to Sierra Pacific, the government could reach into the company’s deep pockets for a big recovery only if it could blame the company for the fire, and that is what motivated investigators to move the blaze’s place of origin to the area where the bulldozer was working and then falsely deny they had originally settled on a different location.

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Judge permits timber harvest that environmentalists claim threatens marbled murrelet in Oregon

Judge permits timber harvest that environmentalists claim threatens marbled murrelet in Oregon | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A Jefferson County judge has rejected a request for a temporary injunction against a state-approved harvest of 234 acres of timber on the West End adjacent to habitat of the threatened marbled murrelet.


After an hourlong presentation last week from attorneys on both sides of the issue, Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper ruled against the plaintiffs, permitting the timber harvest by Interfor, which has mills in Forks and Port Angeles.


The judge ruled Friday that the area in question is outside of the murrelet's habitat and that the plaintiffs could have filed an action in advance of the beginning of the logging operation, which had been scheduled to begin Saturday.


The injunction request, filed by the Seattle Audubon Society and the Olympic Forest Coalition, sought to prevent the scheduled logging of 234 acres of timber in the state Department of Natural Resources' Goodmint and Rainbow Rock sites in west Clallam and Jefferson counties south of Forks.


Environmentalists said that the area had been set aside under the state's marbeled murrelet habitat conservation plan with the federal government.
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State officials said the second-growth trees in question are not vital to the murrelet's habitat, while Interfor said the trees are badly needed to supply the company's mill in Beaver and delays are costing jobs.


The environmental groups argued that while the area in question was not the old growth forest where the endangered bird usually lives, its proximity made it an important habitat for the bird.

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Arkansas Public Employees awarded $16.5 million from timber manager

Arkansas Public Employees awarded $16.5 million from timber manager | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

National Timber Partners was ordered to pay $16.5 million to the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System, Little Rock, for breaching a contract with the $7.3 billion pension fund.


The Arkansas attorney general, who serves as legal counsel for pension fund, filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court, Little Rock, on Sept. 27 after the timber manager failed to pay a scheduled $15 million installment to the pension fund that was due June 28. He filed a motion for default judgment earlier this month.


APERS sold its stake in NTP Timber Plus Fund I to the manager in October 2012 to be paid in three installments totaling $110 million. Carlos Borromeo, APERS chief investment officer, said National Timber executives approached the pension fund about buying the fund stake back when they were concerned they could not live up to their projected returns. APERS committed $100 million to the fund in April 2006 with the goal of a 10% annual return on the investment.


National Timber paid the first installment of $85 million and a portion of the $15 million second installment. A final installment of $10 million due Dec. 31 was never made, according to a news release from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. National Timber was ordered to pay $562,000 in prejudgment interest as part of the $16.5 million total, according to the news release.


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Buyer's proposal for Hofmann Forest included housing, farming

Buyer's proposal for Hofmann Forest included housing, farming | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The company that is buying N.C. State University’s massive Hofmann Forest created a proposal that included developing a tract the size of Apex, something that would transform Onslow County by adding up to 2 million square feet of commercial space and more than 10,500 homes, including a golf community, near Jacksonville.


Also, a swath of timber as large as Cary, Holly Springs and Morrisville combined would be cut down and replaced with farmland, according to a prospectus created by the buyer to lure investors for the $150 million deal.


A spokesman for the buyer, Hofmann Forest LLC, said the prospectus was created earlier this year, and that its plans for the 79,000-acre forest have changed.

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The plans in the prospectus are starkly different from recent statements by the company that it intends to leave Hofmann and its working pine forest essentially unchanged. University officials also have said repeatedly that the deal would protect the forest.


Those claims were made to the media and in court as NCSU fights a lawsuit by foresters, conservationists and a landowner who say the sale should be blocked until it undergoes public scrutiny and environmental review.


The plaintiffs say the prospectus, which was leaked to them, represents a candid look at the real plan for the forest, and that anything else is just public relations spin. And, they say, nothing in the contract for the deal prevents the plans in the prospectus.

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The land sits in three sensitive watersheds and is home to a large population of black bears and to rare Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, among other species.

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N.C. State officials said that they had been unaware of the prospectus.

“This is the first NC State has seen or heard of this document and it includes information that is not contained in the sales agreement,” wrote university spokesman Brad Bohlander in an emailed statement Thursday morning. “We are contacting the buyer to determine when the document was prepared, its accuracy and whether it reflects the buyer’s current views regarding potential use of the land.”

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Sino-Forest investigation: OSC accuses Ernst & Young of ‘failure to perform sufficient audit’

Sino-Forest investigation: OSC accuses Ernst & Young of ‘failure to perform sufficient audit’ | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The country’s top stock market regulator has accused Ernst & Young LLP of failing to conduct a proper audit of now-collapsed Chinese timber firm Sino-Forest Corp.

The unusual move comes just days after the prominent global account accounting firm agreed to pay a record $ 117 million to settle a class-action lawsuit with Sino-Forest shareholders.

The Ontario Securities Commission alleged Monday that the audits performed by Ernst & Young on Sino-Forest’s consolidated financial statements for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 “failed to meet relevant industry standards.”

The accounting firm, in an emailed statement, denied the allegations, saying its work met all professional standards.

“The evidence we will present to the OSC will show that Ernst & Young Canada did extensive audit work to verify ownership and existence of Sino-Forest’s timber assets,” it said.

E&Y also said it has cooperated with the OSC throughout the Sino-Forest investigation.

The OSC will pursue the case through its internal tribunal. Under the province’s Securities Act, its commissioners have the power to issue reprimands, professional sanctions and financial penalties. None of the allegations against Ernst & Young have been proven.
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Timber Companies Sue Over Expansion of Oregon Monument

Timber Companies Sue Over Expansion of Oregon Monument | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Two Oregon lumber companies are challenging the legality of former President Barack Obama's expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Murphy Co. and Murphy Timber Investments LLC sued in federal court in Medford Friday naming President Donald Trump and federal agencies.

The Mail-Tribune says (https://goo.gl/8w5LUO) the Trump administration could choose not to defend the lawsuit.

Before leaving office, Obama added about 48,000 acres to the monument in southwestern Oregon days to protect its biodiversity.

Murphy Co. President John Murphy says more than 80 percent of the federal land in the expansion area is dedicated to timber production under the O&C Lands Act.

He says removing those acres from the timberland base managed by BLM will reduce the supply of timber sold and jeopardizes the company's log supply.

Murphy Timber Investments argues the expansion will reduce the value of about 2,100 acres of timberland it owns within the boundary as well as land outside it.
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Hong Kong Regulator Sues StanChart, UBS Over 2009 Timber IPO

Hong Kong Regulator Sues StanChart, UBS Over 2009 Timber IPO | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Hong Kong’s securities regulator has filed a lawsuit against Standard Chartered Plc, UBS Group AG and audit firm KPMG LLP over an initial public offering by China Forestry Holdings Co. in 2009.

 

The Securities and Futures Commission is seeking unspecified damages for minority shareholders related to alleged “market misconduct” by the defendants connected to China Forestry’s IPO prospectus, and the company’s financial statements for 2009 and for the first half of 2010, according to documents filed with Hong Kong’s High Court on Jan. 16.

 

 
Standard Chartered and UBS were joint sponsors of China Forestry’s $216 million first-time share sale in November 2009, while KPMG was its auditor, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The two banks had previously disclosed potential regulatory action for their work on unspecified IPOs in Hong Kong. UBS said the SFC move could result in its suspension from working on first-time share sales in the city.

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The regulator is seeking compensation from the defendants to “restore” independent minority shareholders who had bought China Forestry stock and held the equity at the time trading was suspended in January 2011, according to the court documents.

 

China Forestry has been halted from trading since then and was in the process of delisting after financial irregularities were discovered. Liquidators were appointed for the logging company in June 2015 by a court in the Cayman Islands, where it is incorporated.

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Court dismisses ‘vexatious’ allegations by Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace

Court dismisses ‘vexatious’ allegations by Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Forestry giant Resolute Forest Products Inc. has hit a setback in its high profile, ongoing defamation suit against Greenpeace and two of its activists. 


Resolute is suing the environmental activist organization for damages of $5 million, in addition to punitive damages of $2 million, after it published a report about the company’s logging practices in Ontario and Quebec, which Resolute says contained false and misleading information — some of which Greenpeace retracted and apologize for in March 2013.


Last week, the Ontario Superior Court dismissed what it described as an attempt by Resolute to “greatly expand the scope of the litigation and transform the trial into an inquiry into Greenpeace” as part of an appellant decision initiated by the organization. 
In its statement of claim, originally filed in 2013, Resolute asserts that Greenpeace organizations around the world have broken laws in pursuit of its advocacy goals, citing many instances where campaigners and protestors affiliated with the organization were arrested or conducted activity that could be interpreted as criminal, such as in 2014 when protestors scaled the Mount Royal Cross in Montreal to hang banners disparaging Resolute. 

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Resolute Files Racketeering Suit Against Greenpeace in U.S. Federal Court

Resolute Files Racketeering Suit Against Greenpeace in U.S. Federal Court | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Resolute Forest Products Inc. announced a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia against Greenpeace International, Greenpeace USA, Greenpeace Fund, Inc., STAND (formerly ForestEthics) and a number of their associates. The complaint included federal racketeering claims and racketeering, trademark, defamation and tortious interference claims under Georgia law.  
These alleged claims arise from, among other things, Greenpeace's self-described "Resolute:  Forest Destroyer" campaign falsely accusing Resolute of, among other things:  (a) "destroying endangered forests," and "operating and sourcing wood . . . in violation of law"; (b) causing the "destruction of endangered species" and "critical caribou habitat" and risking a "Caribou Herd Death Spiral," "extirpation" and "extinction;" (c) "abandoning" and "impoverishing" the Boreal's indigenous communities; and (d) impairing the Boreal's ability to mitigate climate change.


The complaint describes in detail the falsity of these and other malicious and defamatory accusations. Among other things, the complaint explains that far from being a "forest destroyer," Resolute has planted well over a billion trees in the Boreal – which is a billion more than Greenpeace – and is responsible for virtually no permanent lost forest acreage. The complaint also demonstrates that Resolute also has not impaired the Boreal's ability to absorb greenhouse gases, and, instead, has improved that ability through harvesting and forestation as recognized and encouraged by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Nor has Resolute abandoned, exploited or impoverished First Nations or other communities within the Boreal forest, but instead – and again unlike Greenpeace – has created and sustained substantial benefits for these peoples through shared economic participation in the forestry business. The complaint also details how, to support its false accusations, Greenpeace has fabricated evidence and events, including, for example, staged photos falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas and as having harvested areas that were actually impacted by fire.

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Landowner files lawsuit against state to stop timber harvest

Landowner files lawsuit against state to stop timber harvest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The state's plan to harvest timber on a parcel of land it owns in the Katahdin Region now faces a hurdle.  A private landowner who shares ownership of that parcel with the state has now filed a lawsuit to divide up the land and protect a portion of it from logging.  Charlie Fitzgerald has a mission to keep parts of Maine's woods and waters unspoiled so he filed  a petition to partition the land in Penobscot County Superior Court.

"The state has indicated an intent to do some harvesting on that property and his goal is protect particularly the most environmentally sensitive portion of that tract," explained Berney Kubetz, Fitzgerald's attorney in this case.

The land in dispute is a 25-hundred acre parcel that is bordered by Baxter State Park to its west and south and Elliotsville Plantation's proposed national park lands to it's east and north.    The state has already started making plans to harvest timber on the land but  this lawsuit could slow that process down. 
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Global Forest Partners Alleges $9 Million Theft

Global Forest Partners Alleges $9 Million Theft | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

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A criminal complaint filed under seal in U.S. District Court in Concord in December and unsealed Oct. 15 charges Roberto Montano, aka Jorge Roberto Montano Pellegrini, with wire fraud. The civil lawsuit, filed by Lebanon-based Global Forest Partners and an affiliate of the California Public Employees Retirement System, alleges that Montano, 49, California biofuels developer Kirk Haney, and companies they control are guilty of breach of contract, theft, fraud and other violations of the law.
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Global Forest Partners manages an investment portfolio that is nearly as valuable as Dartmouth College’s endowment and includes about 2 million acres of timberland in Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, New Zealand, Uruguay and the southeastern United States. Global Forest has 24 professional employees.
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By the beginning of this decade, Global Forest had amassed more than $3 billion in assets. That made it a big player in an often overlooked corner of the investment market that TimberLink, a consulting firm, estimated in 2011 comprised about $30 billion in assets.
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In 2007, according to an affidavit filed in court by an FBI agent, Global Forest began investing “about $45 million to $50 million” from a large pension plan to develop teak plantations in the Peten region of Guatemala.

The investor was the California Public Employees Retirement System, or Calpers, which has more than $300 billion in assets. Calpers participated using Sylvanus LLC, an affiliate with nearly $500 million invested in forest land. A Calpers spokesman confirmed the giant pension fund’s ownership interest in Sylvanus, but referred other questions to Global Forest.
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Eventually, Calpers provided most of the $45 million to $50 million that was used to pay for land, supplies, equipment and labor needed to plant, maintain and harvest teak trees on a new plantation, according to the FBI affidavit, which describes but doesn’t name the giant pension fund. In 2010, investors organized by Global Forest began forking over $25 million more to fund a second plantation.

The plantations aimed to capture a slice of the global market for teak which, according to a 2012 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, is one of “the tropical hardwoods most in demand for the luxury market and heavy duty applications.” While natural teak forests are found only in India, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, more than 75 percent of the global supply comes from plantations.

The Guatemalan teak plantations that were financed by Calpers and other investors who ponied up tens of millions of dollars — at least $70 million, according to the FBI affidavit — covered as many as 25,000 acres. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that in 1998 Guatemala had had only about 4,000 acres of teak.

Montano played a key role, according to court filings. He “held himself out as the chief executive officer” of Green Millennium, the company that Global Forest and its investors hired to manage the Guatemalan project, according to the affidavit.

Montano opened multiple spigots to boost his illicit personal cash flow, according to the affidavit, which alleges that he pocketed $2.6 million in operating funds, $1.4 million in subsidies from the Guatemalan government and at least $5.3 million in proceeds from loans that improperly mortgaged properties owned by Global Forest investors.
***
Montano is also a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed in Grafton Superior Court in November by Global Forest, Sylvanus and other investors seeking to recover more than $10 million that was allegedly stolen. The lawsuit also names Haney, a San Diego investor and entrepreneur, as a defendant. Haney and Montano were the co-owners of Green Millennium, the lawsuit says.

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Judge orders Cal Fire to pay $30 million for ‘reprehensible conduct’ in Moonlight fire case

Judge orders Cal Fire to pay $30 million for ‘reprehensible conduct’ in Moonlight fire case | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
In a blistering ruling against Cal Fire, a judge in Plumas County has found the agency guilty of “egregious and reprehensible conduct” in its response to the 2007 Moonlight fire and ordered it to pay more than $30 million in penalties, legal fees and costs to Sierra Pacific Industries and others accused in a Cal Fire lawsuit of causing the fire.

The ruling is the latest twist in an epic legal battle that began not long after the fire erupted on Labor Day 2007, scorching more than 65,000 acres in Plumas and Lassen counties.

Sierra Pacific, the largest private landowner in California, was blamed by state and federal officials for the blaze, with a key report finding it was started by a spark from the blade of a bulldozer belonging to a company working under contract for Sierra Pacific.

But company officials have steadfastly denied responsibility and have accused the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service of conspiring to cover up their own shortcomings that allowed the fire to rage out of control.

Even after Sierra Pacific agreed to settle a federal lawsuit over the devastation in two national forests by paying $55 million in cash and handing over 22,500 acres of land to the government, the company insisted it was undone by an erroneous ruling of U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, and then was a victim of stonewalling by Cal Fire in that agency’s Plumas County suit, including the alleged withholding of thousands of pages of key internal documents relevant to the legal struggle.

In a 28-page order issued Tuesday, retired Superior Court Judge Leslie C. Nichols essentially agreed with all of Sierra Pacific’s points, adopting a separate, 57-page order proposed by Sierra Pacific and the other defendants almost word-for-word, and excoriating the behavior of Cal Fire and two lawyers from the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris, which represented the agency.
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Supreme Court takes on Hofmann challenge

Supreme Court takes on Hofmann challenge | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

In a rare and surprising move, the N.C. Supreme Court on Friday “snatched” the long-running and controversial Hofmann Forest case from the state appeals court, along with a couple other high-profile cases, including private school vouchers.


Ron Southerland, one of the lead plaintiffs in a case that’s seeking to require N.C. State University to get an environmental assessment prior to selling the 79,000-acre forest in Onslow and Jones counties to two private firms, said Monday that he and others are still trying to figure out exactly what the change means and how to proceed in the case.


Southerland said James Conner, the attorney who is representing him and other sale opponents, said the Supreme Court had indicated it could hear the case as early as Nov. 17, which is the date by which the school plans to close the sale to Hofmann Forest LLC and Alabama-based Resource Management Service, a Timber Investment Management Organization that is known for sustainable commercial forestry.


“It would seem to us that a pending decision by the state Supreme Court might be a pretty good reason to put off that closing, but that won’t necessarily be the case,” Southerland said Monday. “We’re not exactly sure why the Supreme Court did this, but there are at least a couple of theories.”


The first, which is the more optimistic, is that the Supreme Court has been under political pressure to take more cases and with an election approaching, saw the Hofmann case as an important one that could decide several big issues, such as the opponent’s contention that the state environmental policy act applies to sale of the land and whether the state’s environmental constitutional amendment, adopted back in 1972, truly holds water.
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The second, more cynical theory, is that the Supreme Court, which has a majority of conservative judges, simply wanted to decide the case instead of letting a possibly more unpredictable appeals court make the ruling, which was due any day.

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The Supreme Court “snatch” – Southerland’s word for it – is but the latest twist in a long-running saga full of them. Instead of selling the entire forest to Hofmann Forest LLC – headed by Jerry Walker, an Illinois-based agribusiness owner, NCSU announced in early September that it will now sell 56,000 acres to Resource Management Service and only 23,000 acres to Hofmann Forest LLC, firm formed by Illinois agribusiness owner Jerry Walker.


Instead of a $150 million payoff from a sale that was to have taken place by June 30, the university is to receive as much as $140 million: $131 million from the sale and $9 million more if the buyers are able to negotiate a deal to sell training rights on and over the forest to the U.S. military or to sell protection rights to a conservation group.
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Now, Southerland said, it appears there will be oral arguments before the Supreme Court, and the sale opponents might also have to prepare new written briefs. There is some thought being given, he said, to asking that the courts temporarily block the sale so the Supreme Court case need not be hurried.

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Japan: Gov't ordered to pay damages over failed forestry investment program

Japan: Gov't ordered to pay damages over failed forestry investment program | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A western Japan court on Thursday ordered the government to pay 85 people a combined 91 million yen in damages for failing to sufficiently warn them of the risks of investing in a state-run forestry program that ended in failure. The Osaka District Court ruled the farm ministry's Forestry Agency had neglected to warn investors of the risk of losing money in the "green owner" program, which involved investing in the growing of state-owned forests in exchange for a share of timber sales.


Roughly 86,000 people invested a total of around 50 billion yen in the program from its start in 1984 until the government stopped accepting new investment 15 years later. It was in 1993 that pamphlets promoting the program began carrying a disclaimer stating there was no warranty of capital. Over 90 percent of the investments ended in losses.


Presiding Judge Masaru Sakamoto said of the program prior to the revision of the pamphlets in 1993 that "the government had a responsibility to dispel any misunderstandings that returns would not fall below par of investments."
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A group of 240 people, mostly over the age of 60, had sued the government for around 500 million yen. They claimed phrases in the pamphlets such as "a long-term contract on a safe, sure asset" made it appear that profits were guaranteed, despite timber prices being on a downtrend.

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Jake & Ethan dragon slayers's curator insight, October 16, 2014 4:49 PM

This article is very helpful and knowledgeable of what is going on in japan. It also shows the troubles that are going on in Japan.

 

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Elliott State Forest parcel to be sold to Seneca Jones, drawing environmental lawsuit

Elliott State Forest parcel to be sold to Seneca Jones, drawing environmental lawsuit | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Oregon Department of State Lands has struck a deal to sell a 788-acre parcel of the Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay to the Seneca Jones Timber Co. for $1.8 million.


The timber company’s owner, Kathy Jones, had said the company pursued the land, which it intends to clear cut parts of, to provoke a fight with environmental groups.


It certainly worked: Three environmental groups filed suit Monday to block the purchase and simultaneously sought a temporary injunction to prevent the sale of part of the 93,000-acre state forest.


Two other parcels in the Elliott are also being sold to a timber company, a development announced Monday by the Department of State Lands. The Scott Timber Co. was the winning bidder on two other parcels in the state forest being sold, the agency said, with a $787,000 bid on 355 acres called Benson Ridge and a $1.8 million bid on a 310-acre slice of Adams Ridge.


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Wisconsin court: Managed forest land can't be leased

Wisconsin court: Managed forest land can't be leased | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

No one can lease managed forest land for recreation regardless of whether it's open or closed to the public, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.


Wisconsin's managed forest program gives land owners substantial property tax reductions if they agree to manage the land in a sustainable way. Enrollees must designate whether the land is open or closed to public recreation; owners who keep the land open get larger tax breaks. State law prohibits leasing such land for recreation.


Wayne Lautenbach, who manages closed managed forest land in Door County's town of Liberty Grove for owner Wayne Logcrafters, LLP, was cited last year for leasing the land to a hunter for $750. A judge found him guilty this spring and he was assessed a $750 fine plus court costs, said Door County Assistant District Attorney Joan Korb.


Lautenbach argued on appeal that state statutes only prohibit leasing open managed forest land. He also argued the statutes are unconstitutionally vague because they don't provide notice that people can't lease closed property for recreation.

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