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Monday, April 1, 2013

Prosecutors Seize and Petition to Forfeit Artworks Linked to Money Laundering

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman
Federal prosecutors have seized and petitioned to forfeit 14 crates of art allegedly used to launder money. In the case of U.S. v. Various Pieces of Artwork, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman filed an in rem action in New Jersey federal district court on February 22, 2013 targeting 2,251 items, mostly photographs.

Between 2007 and 2012, the CEO of Green Diesel and Fuel Streamers and associates "fraudulently created and sold credits for renewable fuels that were never produced," declares the U.S. Attorney's forfeiture complaint. The parties "laundered the proceeds of their fraudulent activities by layering the proceeds through multiple bank accounts and by purchasing artwork, some of which was shipped to Newark, New Jersey, as part of an effort to hide the proceeds of the fraud and remove the proceeds from the United States ...."

The purchases totaled $18 million, say prosecutors, adding that "a substantial amount of artwork" was to be moved to Spain via the Netherlands after having been transported to Houston, Texas, and Newark, New Jersey.

Federal attorneys cite financial records showing purchases from seven dealers and galleries, including Sotheby's, Heritage Auction Galleries, and Swann Galleries. No wrongdoing is alleged to have been committed by any sellers.

The pieces targeted for forfeiture include photographs by André Kertész, Edward Weston, Eugène Atget, and Alfred Stieglitz.

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Text copyrighted 2010-2013 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com