(NEW YORK TIMES) Gibson Guitar Corporation has agreed to pay $350,000 in penalties to settle federal charges that it illegally imported ebony Madagascar to use for fret boards, ending a criminal investigation that had drawn fire from conservatives as an example of over-reaching by the government, the Justice Department announced on Monday.
The guitar maker agreed to pay a $300,000 fine and to donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote the protection of endangered hardwood trees, like ebony and rosewood. In return, the government deferred prosecution of the company for criminal violations of the Lacey Act, which since May 2008 has made it illegal to import wood that was harvested and exported illegally under another country’s laws.
“Gibson has acknowledged that it failed to act on information that the Madagascar ebony it was purchasing may have violated laws intended to limit over-harvesting and conserve valuable wood species from Madagascar, a country which has been severely impacted by deforestation,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, an assistant attorney general.
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