After many weeks of negotiation, Gibson Guitar Company has reached a settlement with the US government and the Department of Justice over the importation of illegal wood used in the manufacturing process of the company’s guitars.
“We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve,” remarks Gibson CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz. “This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars. An important part of the settlement is that we are getting back the materials seized in a second armed raid on our factories and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades.”
In a Criminal Enforcement Agreement with the Department of Justice, Gibson acknowledged
responsibility for importing illegal wood into the United States and incurred penalties totalling a minimum of $600,000, including the forfeiture of wood taken from the protected forests of Madagascar. “The resolution of the first criminal investigation into violations of the amended Lacey Act is a watershed moment in global efforts to stop illegal logging around the world,” said Alexander von Bismarck, who, as Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, conducted on-the-ground investigations in Madagascar in 2008 and 2009 that revealed Gibson’s illegal imports and led to today’s actions. “Gibson has accepted responsibility for importing illegal wood from Madagascar, and for the first time in history there are real consequences. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Justice Department’s actions today give endangered forests around the world, and the people that depend on them, a fighting chance against an epidemic of illegal logging.”
“We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted, and a matter that could have been addressed with a simple contact a caring human being representing the government,” continues Juszkiewicz. “Instead, the government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the US Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the tax payer millions of dollars and putting a job creating US manufacture at risk and at a competitive disadvantage. This shows the increasing trend on the part of government to criminalize rules and regulations and treat US businesses in the same way drug dealers are treated. This is wrong and it is unfair. I am committed to working hard to correct the inequity that the law allows and insure there is fairness, due process, and the law is used for its intended purpose of stopping bad guys and stopping the very real deforestation of our planet.”
For more information, visit: www.gibson.com and http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/August/12-enrd-976.html