Rainforest Alliance speaks out on Gibson

CEO Juszkiewicz takes leave from environmental group's board

The Rainforest Alliance on Wednesday issued a statement announcing that Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz has taken a leave of absence from its board. The move comes a day after federal agents raided Gibson offices in Nashville related to a probe into the company's alleged use of endangered wood species.

The alliance, which issues a chain-of-custody certification for manufacturers using standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council, emphasized that the rosewood under investigation is not a part of its program.

"The FSC Chain-of-Custody audit conducted in 2008 verified that Gibson has purchased hard maple, mahogany and muira piranga from FSC-certified forests. These woods are used in the manufacturing of the company's Les Paul SmartWood and Raw Power guitars, which are sold as FSC-Pure with a certificate of authenticity from Gibson.

"Under the current scope of their certificate, they also have the ability to purchase swamp ash and poplar from FSC-certified suppliers. No other species are authorized to be sold with a FSC-certified claim under Gibson's Chain-of-Custody certificate. The certificate does not cover wood from Madagascar," the statement says.

Gibson's next audit was set for Nov. 23, but the Alliance – which has worked with the company for more than a decade – said that process has been postponed until December.