LONDON (AFP) — Accusations that the firm Gethal had been illegally logging in the Brazilian rainforest are false and politically motivated, a source close to owner Johan Eliasch told AFP on Saturday.
The company has "no intention" of accepting a fine announced by the Brazilian government Friday, and is prepared to take the matter to court, the source said.
The Brazilian government's environmental agency Ibama fined Gethal 450 million reals (275 million dollars, 175 million euros) for illegally cutting down 230,000 trees and lacking certification for Amazon land it owns.
"Those allegations are false, fabricated and unsubstantiated," said a source close to the Swedish tycoon, saying the logging stopped once Eliasch bought the firm in order "to protect the rainforest."
"Gethal has been fined because the company didn't comply with its management plan, which had been decided by the previous owners, which planned for the logging in the rainforest," the source said.
The Brazilian authorities did not notify Gethal of the fine and the company will fight its punishment "vigorously", said the source. "The company will fight in the courts.
"Ibama's decision is absurd. Gethal has not violated any law, no harm has been caused; on the contrary. The real issue is politically motivated: it's about the foreign ownership of the rainforest."
Eliasch, a 46-year-old London-based businessman with an estimated net worth of 790 million dollars, is the boss of the Head sports equipment company and an environmental consultant to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
He is also the founder of a British-based organisation called Cool Earth whose aim is to find sponsors to buy up Amazon rainforest in order to protect it.
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