On Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, agents for the U.S. government executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The raids forced Gibson to cease manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day while armed agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service executed the search warrants for ebony and rosewood that was imported from India.
The federal officials claim that Gibson violated the Lacey Act, which stipulates that a company cannot import wood in a manner that’s against the laws of the country the wood is coming from. However, Gibson has complied with Indian law and no concerns have been raised by the Indian government.
“Agents seized wood that was Forest Stewardship Council controlled,” Gibson Guitar Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said. “Gibson has a long history of supporting sustainable and responsible sources of wood and has worked diligently with entities such as the Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace to secure FSC-certified supplies. The wood seized on August 24 satisfied FSC standards.”
Juszkiewicz believes that the Justice Department is bullying Gibson without filing charges. This is the second time Gibson has been raided by the federal government (the first was in 2009), yet no charges have been filed and the materials confiscated on both occasions remain in federal hands.
Gibson is reaching out to all Gibson Guitar fans, Gibson Guitar dealers, artists, musicians, members of the media, bloggers, politicians and anyone who loves the guitar to sign this petition and demand:
• The current investigation of Gibson will be stopped and brought to a fair and conclusive settlement
• The Lacey Act will be amended to provide clear guidance on how corporations can comply
• Consumers will not be prosecuted for owning or transporting instruments for their own use
“Gibson is innocent and will fight to protect its rights,” Juszkiewicz said. “Gibson has complied with foreign laws and believes it is innocent of any wrong doing. We will fight aggressively to prove our innocence.”
For more information go to www.Gibson.com
Please show your support for Gibson and consumers by doing the following:
• The U.S. government will stop the current investigation and negotiate a fair and conclusive settlement. The government will commit to a timeline for this to happen and return materials that were seized. The government will agree that 90 days notice will be given prior to any hostile actions (seizures, raids, etc.) and the provision of dialog and independent third party adjudication prior to action.
• The Lacey Act will be amended to provide clear guidance on what unequivocally will satisfy the need to comply with the “due care” and other provisions. This needs to be defined in a realistic and reasonably actionable form. A code of conduct will be provided for when federal agencies do investigations. Recourse will be provided to companies or individuals being investigated who feel the investigating agency is abusing its power, rather than truly seeking justice. There will be due process where an independent third party can adjudicate grievances and insure there are consequences for abuse.
• Consumers will not be prosecuted for owning or transporting instruments for their own use (i.e. not attempting to make a profit on their sale).