Sour notes for a classic American company.
Federal authorities are pressuring Nashville-based Gibson Guitar to hand over an additional 25 bundles of Indian wood that the company allegedly planned to use in its famous guitars.
The complaint was filed today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and mirrors a 2010 action that sought official forfeiture of wood obtained in a 2009 raid of Gibson facilities. The latter of those cases has been stayed, pending the outcome of the most recent suit.
As has been the case in previous allegations, at issue is the classification of certain wood imported to the United States from India. Namely, a June shipment of 1,250 sawn logs was classified as “finished parts of musical instruments,” which is allowed under Indian law. In reality, according to the sworn affidavit of Fish and Wildlife Service agent Kevin Seiler, the wood was unfinished – a violation of the Lacey Act.
The affidavit also outlines allegations that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz understands the violations, as evidenced by the staunch defense of his company in a press conference and subsequent political fights around the Lacey Act.
“It is clear that Gibson understands the purpose of the Lacey Act, and understands that … fingerboard blanks are not finished fingerboards and thus Gibson is aware that its order for fingerboard blanks was an order for contraband ebony wood or ebony wood which is illegal to possess,” Seiler wrote.
Note that last part. On its face, it reads as if it’s intended to intimidate Henry Juszkiewicz into silence. Before this is over, he may be in jail for defending his company and workers, and hundreds of American non-union jobs may be shipped of to India.
Elsewhere, Fish and Wildlife is busy trying to kill the West Texas oil boom. Perhaps it’s time to kill off the Fish and Wildlife Department instead.