Gibson Guitars Slapped with $300k Penalty For Importing Rare Wood

After being accused of importing rare woods for use in its guitars, famed guitar manufacturer Gibson, whose Nashville facility was raided by agents who seized pallets of fretboard blanks imported from India on August 24, 2011, will pay a $300,000 penalty, forfeit claims to about $262,000 worth of wood seized by federal agents and contribute $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote the conservation of protected tree species.

In a statement U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin described the deal as “fair,” but Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz took his statement to take the government to task in his statement.

“We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve,” said Juszkiewicz. “This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars. An important part of the settlement is that we are getting back the materials seized in a second armed raid on our factories and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades.”

“We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted, and a matter that could have been addressed with a simple contact a caring human being representing the government,” Juszkiewicz added. “Instead, the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the US Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the tax payer millions of dollars and putting a job creating US manufacture at risk and at a competitive disadvantage. This shows the increasing trend on the part of government to criminalize rules and regulations and treat US businesses in the same way drug dealers are treated. This is wrong and it is unfair. I am committed to working hard to correct the inequity that the law allows and insure there is fairness, due process, and the law is used for its intended purpose of stopping bad guys and stopping the very real deforestation of our planet.”

“We entered into the settlement voluntarily,” he said. “It allows us to continue on with life and manufacture guitars.”

Darren Ressler