Last year, federal agents raided Gibson Guitar’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis, TN, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The company was accused of violating the Lacey Act by purchasing and importing ebony wood from Madagascar and rosewood and ebony from India. Today the Department of Justice announced that Gibson has agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty and hand over the wood that was seized in last year’s investigation. Here’s a portion of the press release:
The criminal enforcement agreement defers prosecution for criminal violations of the Lacey Act and requires Gibson to pay a penalty amount of $300,000. The agreement further provides for a community service payment of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to be used to promote the conservation, identification and propagation of protected tree species used in the musical instrument industry and the forests where those species are found. Gibson will also implement a compliance program designed to strengthen its compliance controls and procedures. In related civil forfeiture actions, Gibson will withdraw its claims to the wood seized in the course of the criminal investigation, including Madagascar ebony from shipments with a total invoice value of $261,844.
So basically, Gibson has admitted wrongdoing, even though they vigorously denied it last year. And you might be playing a Gibson SG made with wood that’s now illegal to import. Apparently the only reason the Indian wood was illegal was that it wasn’t finished by Indian workers, but the law is the law.
[via Talking Points Memo]