Monday, August 29, 2011
Gibson Guitar Raided Again on Alleged Lacey Act Violations
There haven't been any high-profile instances of Lacey Act enforcement within the wood flooring industry, but the same cannot be said of the guitar industry. On Wednesday, agents from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service again raided the offices and factories of famed Gibson Guitar in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., for alleged Lacey Act violations. It was the second such raid on the company in two years.
In a press release, CEO and Chairman Henry Juszkiewicz said, "Gibson is innocent and will fight to protect its rights. Gibson has complied with foreign laws and believes it is innocent of any wrongdoing." Due to the raid, his company was forced to cease operations and send employees home for the day.
In the latest raid, agents seized business computers after observing a shipment of ebony and rosewood from India delivered to a Gibson storage facility, according to Reuters; Gibson said agents seized wood from its factory, too. The agents were watching Gibson after they detained a shipment of sawn ebony logs from India in June; the accompanying paperwork fraudulently identified the shipment as Indian ebony fingerboards but did not name Gibson, according to Reuters. With the initial raid on Gibson in November 2009, agents seized guitars and ebony fingerboard blanks from Madagascar, according to Gibson.
In recent years, Gibson has taken steps to ensure more of its products are sourced from sustainable forests. Three of Gibson's manufacturing facilities have been issued FSC Chain-of-Custody certificates, according to the Rainforest Alliance, and Gibson manufactures the Les Paul SmartWood and Raw Power guitars, which are sold as FSC-Pure with a certificate of authenticity from Gibson. The FSC certificates cover products made from hard maple, mahogany, muira piranga and swamp ash. According to Juszkiewicz, the wood seized Wednesday was FSC-certified.
Agents have yet to arrest anyone at Gibson in connection with violating the Lacey Act, but Reuters said the authorities are "weighing charges against the company or its executives for illegally importing wood" in violation of the Lacey Act.