Rev. Moon fined for crimes against the environment

Associated Press, September 27, 2000
By Associated Press

Police have slapped a dlrs 32,800 fine on a ranch owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in southwestern Brazil for crimes committed against the environment, officials said Wednesday. Four staff on the ranch were also arrested. Moon's L'Harmonia Ranch in Bonito, 1,050 kilometers (650 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo, was fined for the "illegal extraction of rosewood from a permanent preservation area," Claudemar Suvernigo, commander of Bonito's environmental police department said by phone. The 11,000 hectare (27,200 acre) spread, which Moon purchased late last year, was apparently being cleared for cattle raising, Suveringo said.

"We seized 60 logs of rosewood and arrested four ranch workers who were about to cut down more trees," he added. The workers, who were released on bail, could be sentenced to up to three years in jail "for committing crimes against the environment." The ranch is one of at least 40 Moon has acquired in Mato Grosso do Sul state, where besides agribusiness he also plans to get involved in tourism. Moon's Brazilian operations are run from his New Hope Ranch in nearby Jardim. No one there was immediately available for comment. The New Hope Ranch was founded three years ago by Moon's Unification Church. The 80-year-old Moon heads a multibillion-dollar international business empire.

Two decades ago, Brazilians stoned Moon's temples in major cities amid a wave of anti-Moon hysteria. Moon discovered the Jardim region on a fishing trip in 1994 and has spent millions developing sites in sparsely populated Mato Grosso do Sul, which borders Bolivia and Paraguay.

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