The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that it reached a criminal enforcement agreement with Gibson Guitar Corporation, resolving two widely-publicized investigations into allegations that Gibson had violated the U.S. Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and importing wood products from Madagascar and India. The U.S. government agreed to decline charging Gibson in the two cases, while Gibson agreed to pay $300,000 in penalties; provide a community service payment of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; forfeit the seized Madagascar wood valued at $261,844; and implement a compliance program to ensure the legality of its wood supplies.
Following is a statement by Adam Grant, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute:
“This agreement closes an important chapter on the first major investigation and by far the most publicized cases under the 2008 amendments to the U.S. Lacey Act. The decision demonstrates that the Lacey Act has teeth. It shows that the law can be enacted with serious, but balanced penalties for violations.
“Fair enforcement of the Lacey Act, the world’s first ban on the importation of illegally sourced wood, is important to ensure that the wood comes into the U.S. from legal sources. We are hopeful that this case will provide incentive to other wood product providers– and their suppliers– to engage in legal purchasing of wood and help protect endangered forests.”
The World Resources Institute is one of the founding members of the Forest Legality Alliance, a project funded by USAID, that works with a wide range of stakeholders to achieve better forest governance and biodiversity conservation by increasing the capacity of supply chains to deliver legal wood products.
For more background on the Lacey Act, visit www.forestlegality.org.