The State Forestry Administration says it will soon announce the findings of a probe into accusations that debt-laden Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) engaged in illegal logging in Yunnan province . Deputy administration chief Lei Jiafu said the results of the government investigation into environmental group Greenpeace's accusations against APP - the largest paper manufacturer in Asia outside Japan - would be disclosed in a month or two. Mr Lei said that if the claims of illegal logging were true, the government would hand down severe punishments to those responsible. In November, Greenpeace accused APP of logging original forest and turning the area into woods of cultivated simao pine, reaping huge profits in the process. The allegations were denied by APP. When asked why the investigation had taken so long, Mr Lei said it took time to clarify some of the details. Mr Lei said investigators had sent teams to Yunnan to verify Greenpeace's claims. Greenpeace China forest campaigner Zhong Yu said the investigators had returned to Beijing, but the central government was delaying the release of its findings because the project involved the interests of many government departments. Greenpeace said it had evidence that APP had already logged 600 hectares of virgin forest in Yunnan province. The mainland's sixth survey of national forest resources found that forest cover had increased by 16 million hectares between 1999 and 2003,rising from 16.55 per cent to 18.21 per cent. But Mr Lei said deforestation remained serious, with 10.1 million hectares of forest logged or cleared in that time.