Gibson Guitars has settled federal charges of unlawfully importing ebony wood from Madagascar for fretboards by agreeing to pay $350,000 in penalties, The New York Times reports. Gibson will pay a $300,000 fine and donate an additional $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The company will escape criminal charges if it does not violate terms of a settlement in the next year and a half. Gibson also agreed to abandon a lawsuit seeking $261,000 in damages incurred during the investigation.
"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 deforestration," said Ignacia S. Morena, an assistant U.S. attorney general.
Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s chief executive, last year called the charges "baloney."
Gibson was accused of violating the Macey Act, which has since May 2008 outlawed importing wood harvested and illegally exported under another's country's laws. In August 2011, federal authorities raided a Gibson factory in Nashville, Tennessee, seeking wood imported from India. Two years earlier, armed agents stormed a Nashville Gibson factory over imported wood from Madagascar.