Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gibson Enters Plea Bargain In Illegal Woods Case, Admits Intentional Law Breaking, Lying...

Gibson Les Paul "Classic"
I wrote two posts about this story last year, when Lower Wingnuttia guitar fans erupted in poutrage over the Kenyan Mau Mau Socialist Muslim sleeper agent taking away their rock. You should read those pieces, here, and here, for background, but the short of it is, as usual with Lower Wingnuttia poutrage, it was all a giant crock of crap to begin with. Here's a quick recap...

Gibson, formerly a private company of craftsmen in Kalamazoo, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of a giant South American conglomerate. The first thing the new owners did was fire all of the old workers and move the company to Nashville, where they could replace craftsmen with machines and not have to worry about pesky details like paying a living wage to the remaining humans they do employ.

The second thing the new owners did was to start trading in the illegal black market of endangered species, specifically, exotic woods protected by a 100 year old international treaty. And they got caught.

Gibson made wild-ass pleas to Lower Wingnuttia, claiming the evil gubmint, and Barack Obama, personally, was out to get them. In point of fact, at the time the feds seized the load of incoming illegal wood that started it all, they had no idea it belonged to Gibson. But hey, since when have facts ever mattered in Lower Wingnuttia?

Well, guess what, Wingnuttians? Gibson has now ADMITTED that they broke the law intentionally, then lied their right wing corporate asses off about it. And you idiots fell for it. Again.

Here's an update on Gibson's plea bargain deal from Mother Jones...
Gibson agreed to pay a $300,000 fine for the ebony from Madagascar that was taken in the first raid. The company also agreed to make a $50,000 donation to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote conservation work and forfeited the seized illegal wood, which was valued at $261,844.
Here's a link to the settlement agreement...

DOJ notes that Madagascar is a country that has a major problem with illegal logging, and that its ebony is particularly threatened, which prompted the government to ban the export of unfinished ebony products in 2006. Importing those products would be considered illegal both under Malagasy law and under the Lacey Act
 Here's some details of Gibson's deliberate law breaking from the DoJ statement of facts, part of the settlement agreement...
Gibson participated in a trip to Madagascar, sponsored by a non-profit organization. Participants on the trip, including the Gibson employee, were told that a law passed in 2006 in Madagascar banned the harvest of ebony and the export of any ebony products that were not in finished form. They were further told by trip organizers that instrument parts, such as fingerboard blanks, would be considered unfinished and therefore illegal to export under the 2006 law. Participants also visited the facility of the exporter in Madagascar, from which Gibson’s supplier sourced its Madagascar ebony, and were informed that the wood at the facility was under seizure at that time and could not be moved. 
After the Gibson employee returned from Madagascar with this information, he conveyed the information to superiors and others at Gibson. The information received by the Gibson employee during the June 2008 trip, and sent to company management by the employee and others following the June 2008 trip, was not further investigated or acted upon prior to Gibson continuing to place orders with its supplier. Gibson received four shipments of Madagascar ebony fingerboard blanks from its supplier between October 2008 and September 2009.
1960 tobacco sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard

 So, there you go, Wingutty rockers. Gibson really is a huge pile of shit. I say this as a huge fan of the old Gibson. The REAL Gibson. Like the 1960 Les Paul Standard above, very similar to the '59 tobacco sunburst Standard I used to own. Anyone who's been around will tell you today's Gibson guitars are junk compared to real Gibsons. Now, the once spotless name of Gibson has been subverted by a huge, heartless, felonious corporation out to make Big Bux using a cherished name to sell mediocre crapola at premium prices.

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