Tag Archives: imported

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.”

Blackburn, Cooper Collaborate on Imported Wood Bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two members of Congress from Tennessee announced federal legislation Thursday seeking to quell fears among owners of musical instruments and other products made from imported wood that they could face prosecution under a law that has led to raids on Gibson Guitar Corp.
Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn said at a press conference in a Nashville recording studio that the bill would protect people from prosecution for unknowingly possessing illegally imported wood, and would require the federal government to establish a database of forbidden wood sources.
The measure would also exempt any wood imported before 2008 changes to the federal Lacey Act, which bans wood products illegally exported from foreign countries.
“For these old instruments before 2008, you can’t uncut a tree,” Cooper said. “This was already done. It’s spilled milk.”

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Feds Say No Prosecution of Guitar Owners; Mum on Gibson

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Owners of musical instruments made with illegally imported wood don’t face prosecution, two federal agencies say in a letter that addresses fears stirred up after a major Tennessee guitar-maker was raided.
“The federal government focuses its enforcement efforts on those who are removing protected species from the wild and making a profit by trafficking in them,” the U.S. Justice Department and the Interior Department wrote to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Blackburn and other congressional Republicans have been pressing the federal agencies to meet with them about Aug. 24 raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Memphis and Nashville where agents seized pallets of wood, guitars and computer hard drives. Gibson chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz has publicly blasted the raids as an example of the federal government risking U.S. jobs with over-zealous regulation.
After the raid, Juszkiewicz attended a speech by President Barack Obama as a guest of Blackburn and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich and Christopher J. Mansour, director of legislative affairs at Interior, said those who “unknowingly possess” an instrument made from illegally imported materials don’t have a criminal problem.

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