Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz responded last night to Monday’s news of a settlement between his company and the US Department of Justice, involving a cash settlement and suspension of prosecution.
In two separate incidents, federal agents have raided Gibson facilities, confiscating wood used for guitar fingerboards suspected of having been imported in violation of the Lacy Act. The law in question makes it a criminal act to import animal or plant material in violation of regulations in the country of origin.
Gibson has maintained throughout this ordeal that all woods in question were obtained in compliance with the law. In his recent comments, Juszkiewicz sounds far less contrite that what was suggested in the DOJ press release on Monday, announcing that the company had agreed to fines and payments of $350,000.
“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. 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 by a caring human being representing the Government. Instead, the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the U.S. Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the taxpayer millions of dollars and putting a job-creating U.S. manufacturer at risk and at a competitive disadvantage. This shows the increasing trend on the part of the Government to criminalize rules and regulations and treat U.S. 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 ensure 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.”
For those interested in the legal minutiae, Gibson has posted the full agreement and statement of facts on their web site.