HOLZINDUSTRIE SCHWEIGHOFER: Personal union with PEFC-certifier for eight years

During the last months of the “Schweighofer scandal” in Romania (and Austria) one could see how every new information about the activities of this company only made the scandal worse. Based on this experience I recently made a bold statement in an email to PEFC.org, the international certifying agency for wood products, saying that Schweighofer might crash in the future like a plane hit by missiles and running out of fuel at the same time – and that HSR might kill in the crash PEFC as well, in case PEFC will not withdraw its certificate from this highly corrupt company.

My intuition that every new detail about Holzindustrie Schweighofer makes the case more and more outrageous only got confirmed today when I read through the webpages and annual reports of Holzforschung Austria (HfA), the company that certified HSR on behalf of PEFC as well as webpages of PEFC and HSR. There I found interesting details about a key person of HfA, Mr. Dr. Georg Erlacher, a former deputy chair, chair and member of the board of the mother company of HfA (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Holzforschung (ÖGH) – all this from 2003-2011.

Even more interesting: Before that he had been a high ranking employee of HS(!) in Austria (1991-1998), of Stora Enso Timber (1999-2001), the (controversial) Finnish-Swedish company that bought up the shares and factories of HS (providing HSR with the necessary capital of approx. 1 Billion EUR for its Romanian adventure!) and now, he is as well member of the jury of the Schweighofer-Prize, awarded in a two year turn for innovations in the wood industry.

Logo of HfA

But the very best is that Mr. GE is the deputy chair (Stellvertreter des Vorsitzenden) of Schweighofer Privatstiftung (Schweighofer Foundation) from 2002 to the present day. Well: The Schweighofer Foundation is nobody else but the owner of Holzindustrie Schweighofer Romania (through two other HSR owned companies: SPB Industrieholding GmbH and SPB Beteiligungsverwaltung GmbH). It seems that GE has resigned from his position as a board member of HfA around spring 2014, at the time when HSR received the PEFC certificate.

Therefore, even if it seems that there has been no overlap of his two positions and therefore no direct incompatibility – but still: The fact that for many years GE has ‘ruled’ HfA and the mother company of HSR in ‘personal union’ from 2003 to 2011 (kings and emperors used to do so…), indicates that HfA does not fulfill the PEFC requirements of objectivity and impartiality in order to act as a certifyer of HSR.

UPDATE August 20, 2015: According to an article published in Wirtschaftsblatt.at concering the PEFC certification for HS by HfA, Mr Erlacher has been board member of HfA until November 2014 – which overlaps with the time of issuance of the PEFC certificate on May 26, 2014. Therefore, the incompatibility is evident.
Although a spokesperson of the Austrian Ministry of Economy that is in charge of the accreditation of certifiers  falsely told the Austrian newspaper that the Ministry is accrediting for certification ONLY staff members of a company, not companies, the PEFC accreditation standards (art. 3, 4, 5 of Annex 6) clearly and repeatedly speak of “certification bodies“, which means entities like a company an institute etc. The certificate issued by HfA is beaering as well the name and logo of HfA and not the nanmes and photos etc. of the two staff members who have signed the certificate. Therefore, we can clearly speak of conflict of interest and noncompliance with the accreditation standards of PEFC…

As shown in earlier postings and complaints to PEFC, another leading person of HfA, Mr. Manfred Brandstaetter (CEO) is member of the Schweighofer Prize jury as well. To make the picture of conflicts of interest and incompatibilities complete, Mr. Alfred Teischinger, board member of HfA is as well member of the Schweighofer Prize jury. Last but nor least, HfA has made the callibration works for HSR in 2010, which means that HfA has not been independent from HSR when it issued the PEFC certificate.

PEFC logo

As a consequence, we think that the PEFC certificates issued by HfA for HSR are lacking the basic requirements of credibility. Having in mind the close personal relationship between Mr. Dr. Georg Erlacher and Mr. Gerald Schweighofer as well as the status of GE as a former employee of HS Austria and then deputy chair of the HSR mother company while he was as well chair or board member of the company that has later certified HSR, one could even say without exagerating that the PEFC certificates  have been issued in 2014 and 2015 for HSR AND BY HSR itself.


1. CV of Mr. Dr. Georg Erlacher, showing his activity for HS Austria, Stora Enso Timber, ÖGH and HfA (see page 1 below)

2. Annual reports of HfA, indicating Mr. GE as chair or board member (until 2013/2014) as well as Mr. Alfred Teischinger as board member (science department / Wissenschaft) – see always page 2 below:
a.) Report 2009 
b.) Report 2010
c.) Report 2011
d.) Report 2012
e.) Report 2013 (issued in early 2014)

3. The court file Holzindustrie Schweighofer versus Neuer Weg Association, showing Schweighofer Privatstiftung as the mother company of HSR (page 5 below) and Mr. Dr. Georg Erlacher as deputy chair of Schweighofer Privatstiftung as from January 30, 2002 onwards (page 46). LINK (pdf document) >>>

4. Jury of the Schweighofer Prize 2015, including Mr. Dr. Georg Erlacher, Mr. Manfred Brandstaetter and Mr. Alfred Teischinger

5. BONUS: An interview from 2008 with Mr. Gerald Schweighofer where he personally says that there is illegal logging going on in Romania even in the certified forests as well as that transportation papers for timber might pe forged and that wood suppliers often cut trees under the pretext that they have been attacked by bark beetles (Borkenkaefer). How honest and well informed he was back then! Today HSR states exactly the opposite although nothing has changed to the better in Romanian forestry. HSR is today insisting on the position that certificates and transportation papers prove the legal origin of the timber that is being delivered to HSR. The question arises: When did Mr. Schweighofer lie at the press and the public: in 2008 or in 2015? It is either, or.
LINK (www.wirtschaftsblatt.at) >>>

Posted by at 18/08/2015
Filed in category: Natur & Schutz, Politik & Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft & Forschung, and tagged with: , , ,

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