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Gibson will pay $300,000 to settle environmental violations

Guitar company admitted to possibly illegally purchasing endangered wood

A three-year probe into possible environmental violations at Gibson Guitar Corp. has come to an end.

In 2009, the Department of Justice (DOJ) raided one of Gibson’s facilities, claiming the company violated the Lacey Act, an endangered species law that includes plants. Then, last August, armed agents raided three of the guitar maker’s Tennessee factories and confiscated wood they claimed was protected under the Lacey Act and which the company illegally imported from Madagascar and India.

Gibson maintained its innocence throughout the investigation, but yesterday, authorities announced that the company has reached a criminal enforcement agreement in which it will pay a $300,000 penalty for admitting to possibly illegally purchasing endangered ebony from Madagascar. The instrument maker also will forfeit wood valued at $261,844 and pay $50,000 to the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“As a result of this investigation and criminal enforcement agreement, Gibson has acknowledged that it failed to act on information that the Madagascar ebony it was purchasing may have violated laws intended to limit over-harvesting and conserve valuable wood species from Madagascar, a country which has been severely impacted by deforestation,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in the announcement. “Gibson has ceased acquisitions of wood species from Madagascar and recognizes its duty under the U.S. Lacey Act to guard against the acquisition of wood of illegal origin by verifying the circumstances of its harvest and export, which is good for American business and American consumers.”

Read NPR for more insight on Gibson’s settlement.

And for more InsideCounsel stories about Gibson’s legal troubles, read:

DOJ accuses Gibson Guitar of environmental violations

Gibson raid has musicians fearful of flying

DOJ raids Gibson Guitar in Tennessee

Contributing Author

Ashley Post

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