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Gibson pays the piper for illegal timber
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The US government has settled its legal case against the Gibson Guitar company over use of illegal timber from Madagascar in its instruments. Nashville-based Gibson, whose products are used by artists in every genre of music, will pay a US$300,000 ($284,000) fine and a US$50,000 ($47,000) community payment. Source: BBC News
Gibson admitted violating the Lacey Act, which requires firms to know that the timber they use is legally obtained.
The Gibsonís premises was raided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 2010 and 2011, with agents impounding ebony and rosewood imported from Madagascar and India.
The FWS found evidence that an employee had told Gibson two years previously that its Madagascan imports might be illegal, but that the company had nevertheless ordered further stock.
"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 overharvesting and conserve valuable wood species from Madagascar, a country which has been severely impacted by deforestation," said US Assistant Attorney General Moreno.
The ebony was mainly in the form of strips that would be fashioned into fretboards for guitars, mandolins and banjos.
The US Congress amended the Lacey Act in 2008 to tackle the continuing demand for hardwoods such as ebony in the face of evidence that much of the international trade was illegal. The act is now one of the world's toughest laws on the issue.
In addition to the payments, Gibson is withdrawing its claim to wood seized by the FWS.