NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug 6 (Reuters) - Gibson Guitar Corp,
which makes some of the world's most prized guitars, will pay a
$300,000 penalty under a criminal enforcement agreement with
federal prosecutors, after it admitted to possible illegal
purchases of ebony from Madagascar, authorities said on Monday.
The agreement, announced by U.S. Justice Department
officials in Washington, caps a probe into the Nashville-based
guitar maker that began in 2009 when it came under suspicion of
importing banned or protected wood from both Madagascar and
"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," said U.S. Assistant
Attorney General Ignacia Moreno of the Justice Department's
Environment and Natural Resources Division.
"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," Moreno said.
The century-old Lacey Act, originally passed to crack down
on a booming trade in bird feathers used to adorn hats, was
amended in 2008 to require that U.S. companies make detailed
disclosures about wood imports.
Apart from the $300,000 penalty slapped on Gibson as part
of the agreement, the legendary guitar maker will forfeit wood
valued at $261,844 that was seized in the course of the
The Justice Department said Gibson would also pay $50,000 to
the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation "to promote the
conservation, identification and propagation of protected tree
Gibson Chief Executive Officer Henry Juszkiewicz was not
immediately available for comment, the company said.
(Reporting by Tim Ghianni)
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