Underage Bidder Thwarts State Timber Auction

The Finance Ministry on Wednesday canceled yet another scheduled auction aimed at selling off part of 71,000 cubic meters of illegally logged wood seized by authorities earlier this year, this time because one of the registered bidders was underage.

On Sunday, the ministry said plans to auction off a 2,653-cubic-meter lot in Stung Treng province on Tuesday were on track with three registered bidders.

On Wednesday, however, Undersecretary of State Soung Mengkea said the auction was called off because one of the three was under the age of 18, and therefore ineligible to bid on the timber.

“We will reschedule it for another time,” he said.

It was the third time the ministry has canceled the auctions, which were originally scheduled to begin in Mondolkiri province on June 27.

On the first two occasions, the ministry said there were not enough interested buyers to proceed.

The next auction is scheduled for Monday, also in Mondolkiri.

Authorities seized the 71,000 cubic meters—valued at $14 million—between mid-January and mid-April in coordination with a task force established by Prime Minister Hun Sen to root out illicit timber stocks across the country’s east.

The money the auctions raise has been earmarked for use by the Education Ministry.

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