Gibson Guitar Pays $350K Penalty to Feds for Wood Imports

After nearly three years of denying guilt, Gibson Guitar acknowledged Monday that it bought and imported ebony wood illegally from Madagascar in violation of a federal law protecting endangered species, and it will pay a $350,000 penalty.
From the Tennessean:
The case had sparked rallies and protests against federal authorities by Gibson Guitar supporters and led to efforts by Tennessee congressional leaders to tweak federal law so it doesn’t make criminals of musicians who own prized guitars that might contain components made with rare foreign woods.
“This is a watershed moment in the battle to stop illegal logging around the world,” said Alexander von Bismarck, executive director of the private Environmental Investigation Agency, who said he led the probe of Gibson’s ebony purchases in Madagascar and turned over findings to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“It was our private investigation, and we handed it to the authorities,” von Bismarck said. “We published two reports of the investigation and named the key timber barons in Madagascar and their trading partners, and tracked the wood wherever it went. In the United States, it went primarily to Gibson.”

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