Gibson Guitar Raid-Right or Wrong?
As I looked into this raid and the Lacey act I observed a law designed to protect rare and endangered species.
Gibson bought rare woods for fingerboards. They bought them in an unfinished state. According to US authorities this is illegal.
However, we must note the wood can be bought finished, or in other words with local Indian labor applied. This tells me this has nothing to do with the environment. It has to do with protecting a foreign labor interest, or perhaps the interests of Gibson competitors who buy the wood finished at a higher cost. The fix here would be allow the wood to be bought by anyone unfinished. I note that Gibson maintains it has letters of approval as required from the Indian government.
The government IMO has an obligation to make this clear. I just do not see the justice of using environmental laws to protect trade or labor interests.
I can see where this might be an example of intrusive government damaging an employers interests.
In the hottest part of an August Tennessee day last Thursday, Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz stood out in the full sun for 30 minutes and vented to the press about the events of the day before.
“We had a raid,” he said, “with federal marshals that were armed, that came in, evacuated our factory, shut down production, sent our employees home and confiscated wood.”
The raids at two Nashville facilities and one in Memphis recalled a similar raid in Nashville in November 2009, when agents seized a shipment of ebony from Madagascar. They were enforcing the Lacey Act, a century-old endangered species law that was amended in 2008 to include plants as well as animals. But Juszkiewicz says the government won’t tell him exactly how — or if — his company has violated that law.
“We’re in this really incredible situation. We have been implicated in wrongdoing and we haven’t been charged with anything,” he says. “Our business has been injured to millions of dollars. And we don’t even have a court we can go to and say, ‘Look, here’s our position.’”
And finally from CNN Money
However, Juszkiewicz insists the wood is legal under Indian law because it’s a finished product — a fingerboard that gets attached to the neck of the guitar. He said he has letters from the Indian government to prove it.
Feds: Gibson wood seizure linked to criminal probe
By ERIK SCHELZIG , 10.06.11, 05:38 AM EDT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Federal prosecutors confirmed there’s a criminal investigation under way related to the recent raid on Gibson Guitar in a filing that asked a judge to delay efforts by the company to reclaim wood that was seized.
U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin on Wednesday declined to provide more details to The Associated Press. Specifics of the investigation by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department have been filed under seal.