Gibson pay to end wood case

Gibson Guitar Corporation have paid the US government $300,000 to end a criminal investigation over the firm’s importing of wood to build instruments – but insist they never did anything wrong.

Instead, says boss Henry Juszkiewicz, the unusual action was the best way for them to avoid millions of dollars in legal costs, and get back to the business of building guitars.

Gibson premises were raided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Border Protection agents in 2009 and 2011. They were accused of using illegal ebony and rosewood in their factories.

But Juszkiewicz said the Les Paul makers were being bullied by authorities who were choosing to misinterpret an Indian law, saying: “The Department of Justice has suggested the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal.

“This action was taking without the support and consent of the government of India. Our government says wood is illegal if US workers produce it. They are bullying us without filing charges.”

Following lengthy negotiations a settlement has been reached in which the US Government agrees not to pursue Gibson, and the firm accepts responsibility for its actions.

But Juszkiewicz has more to say. He reports: “We felt compelled to settle – the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve.

“This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars. An important part of the settlement is that we’re getting back the materials seized, and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades.”

The boss believes his company was “unfairly targeted” using “violent and hostile means” and continues: “This shows the increasing trend on the part of government to criminalise rules and regulations, and treat businesses in the same way drug dealers are treated. This is wrong and it is unfair.”

Gibson have published the details of the settlement so readers can draw their own conclusions, saying: “The criminal enforcement agreement recognises that it was inappropriate to criminalise this matter.”

-Classic Rock Magazine

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