The NGO also alleges that the "revelations" put DLH in breach of its certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Global Witness timed the attack to coincide with Danish-based DLH being a gold sponsor of FSC’s corporate social responsibility conference in Copenhagen on October 10-11.

Global Witness’ main claim is that DLH bought 1,281m3 of timber worth US$304,870 from Liberia in 2012 – wood cut under Private Use Permit (PUP) logging contracts, which have since been the subject of a moratorium by the Liberian government due to reports of fraud and corruption involving Liberian officials.

Peter Kristensen, DLH’s corporate social responsibility vice-president, said the PUP timber bought by the company from Liberia last year was neither FSC-certified nor Controlled Wood and "not part of our FSC trade".

"We encourage Global Witness to formally submit a complaint against the FSC policy of Association," he said.

"We believe that our actions in Liberia are in line with the policy. Our system has been built up to ensure compliance with this policy, and this would be a perfect way to test it."

DLH said it normally refrains from buying community forest timber but made an exception in Liberia as auditing body SGS surveilled chain of custody and lawful payment of fees on all exported timber from the country. It also cited strong global support for promoting sustainability in the Liberian forest sector.

DLH acknowledged concerns being aired about PUPs in 2012 but saw how Liberian timber export revenues were being invested in developing Forest Management Concessions and funding to SGS’s LiberFor chain of custody system. It also checked NGO reports to make sure its Liberian suppliers were not involved in illegal activities.

DLH said it waited for the conclusions of the Liberian government’s investigation into PUPs and once a moratorium was placed on them on January 5, 2013, it has not sourced any further PUP timber.

"Our current purchasing policy for Liberia is that we only accept timber originating from Forest Management Concessions and Timber Sales Contracts," it said.