Gibson Guitars' agreement to pay a $300,000 fine for its role in importing illegal timber from Madagascar is a major breakthrough in the fight to end the multi-billion dollar global trade in illicit wood, said Global Witness today.
The acceptance of responsibility by the iconic US company under a 'criminal enforcement agreement' marks the end of the first investigation under the groundbreaking Lacey Act of 2008, which makes importing or dealing in illegal overseas timber a criminal offence.
Investigations by Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) triggered the legal action, by revealing that ebony used by Gibson Guitars was illegally cut in Madagascar's national parks, devastating some of the world's most unique ecosystems and habitats.
"This is a landmark decision. It sends a strong signal that companies can no longer turn a blind eye to what has been done to obtain the timber they buy," said Reiner Tegtmeyer of Global Witness. "If we want to protect what remains of the world's lungs and the livelihoods of millions of poor people, we need to see far more of these actions under the Lacey Act and through similar legislation which comes into force next year in the EU."