Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Missed statute of limitations deadline prompts government to lose cultural property forfeiture case filed in Texas.


Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur forfeiture case
The fossilized Tyrannosaurus bataar skull.
A missed deadline has caused federal prosecutors to lose their court case to confiscate a dinosaur skull allegedly pilfered from Mongolia. "[T]he Court finds that the Government’s request for a final order of forfeiture for the Defendant Bataar Skull should be and is hereby DENIED," wrote U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in a decision rendered last week. The dismissal in the case of U.S. v. One Fossilized Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skull (17-cv-00106-O) is the second time that the court has quashed the government's forfeiture action.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

World map of prosecutors counter terrorism and cultural heritage trafficking network

Prosecutors' Counter Terrorism Network could leverage criminal cases against cultural heritage traffickers.


A new project launched this week by the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) aims to build better connections between counter-terrorism (CT) prosecutors.

The initiative should be welcome news to those few prosecutors worldwide who monitor antiquities trafficking and its links to organized crime, smuggling rings, and terror groups.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Cultural heritage trafficking and illicit financial flows

Cultural heritage trafficking and illicit financial flows should be probed by law enforcement.


Cultural heritage trafficking is a serious crime. Like most serious crimes, heritage trafficking is associated with other crimes such as lying on customs forms, falsifying invoices, wire fraud, money laundering, and even genocide.

Now the World Customs Organization has published a report on illicit financial flows (IFFs). Although the report--titled Illicit Financial Flows via Trade Mis-invoicing Study Report 2018--is silent on the topic of IFF's relationship to cultural heritage trafficking, its observations and analyses apply, which is why the association between heritage trafficking and illicit financial flows should be probed by law enforcement authorities.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Baltimore ancient coins test case in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has issued a unanimous decision rejecting the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild's (ACCG) effort to strike down U.S. import controls that protect ancient coins from transnational looting and trafficking.

"Having already received two hearty bites at the proverbial apple, .... we are satisfied to reject each of the Guild’s contentions on appeal," wrote the appellate court in the case of U.S. v. Three Knife-Shaped Coins; 7 Cypriot Coins; 5 Other Chinese Coins.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Note purportedly written by Neil Armstrong in the moon dust case of Cicco v. NASA
Note reportedly written by Neil Armstrong.
Source: court papers filed in Cicco v. NASA
“To Laura Ann Murray – Best of Luck – Neil Armstrong Apollo 11.” This message accompanied a vial of moon dust that Laura Cicco (neé Murray) received from her mother when she was about ten years old. The first man to set foot on the moon scribbled the note on the back of a business card carried by Cicco's father, who was friends with Armstrong.

These are some of the claims Cicco makes in a declaratory judgment (DJ) pleading her lawyer filed in Kansas federal court on June 6.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Defendant mosaic seized by the FBI that prosecutors say measures
18 ft. x 8 ft. and weighs approximately 1 ton.
In a recently filed civil forfeiture case involving cultural property, prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California say that an importer failed to meet the obligations of 19 U.S.C. §§ 1481 and 1484, which require true and accurate information on invoices and entry documents.

Government lawyers allege in United States v. One Ancient Mosaic (18-CV-04420) that the importer failed to supply an accurate description of the ancient mosaic, listed a false value for the artifact, entered a false country of origin, failed to classify the mosaic under the correct Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and failed to declare the artifact as an antiquity. Simply put, prosecutors say that “the defendant mosaic was illegally imported and entered into the United States in violation of United States law.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives will consider a bill that adds art and antiquities dealers to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). Introduced last Friday by Representative Luke Messer (R-IN-6), H.R. 5886 would aid law enforcement's effort to uncover money laundering and terrorist financing schemes.

Titled the "Illicit Art and Antiquities Trafficking Prevention Act," the bill replies "yes" to the question, Shouldn't Art and Antiquities Sellers Be Subject to Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorist Financing Laws?, and it satisfies one of the six proposed recommendations to combat cultural heritage crime.

America's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance laws (AML/CTF) such as the BSA generally require luxury and cash-intensive industries to satisfy recordkeeping requirements to identify and report possible criminal activity. Banks, casinos, and jewelry dealers are just some of the sectors already required to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Under the terms of the legislation proposed last week, art and antiquities dealers also would be included.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

European Parliament
Members of the European Parliament have adopted a legislative resolution endorsing a December 2017 agreement with the European Council that, for the first time, includes art dealers and auction houses in the European Union's anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) compliance rules.

Directive (EU) 2015/849 is the EU's primary legal weapon to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. It has been updated four times. The Directive regulates designated high-cash sectors (e.g., banks, casinos) to prevent them from being financially co-opted by organized crime groups and terrorists. The legislation approved by the Parliament on April 19 seeks to broaden the Directive by including cultural property dealers on the list of regulated sectors.

Monday, April 23, 2018

China United States cultural property MoU
CLICK HERE TO WATCH CPAC'S PUBLIC HEARING ON MAY 2, 2018 AT 3PM EDT.

The cultural property Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United States and China is up for renewal.

The MoU memorializes the two nations' bilateral agreement--first adopted in 2009 and later renewed in 2014--that imposes American import restrictions on endangered Chinese archaeological objects. These protections are authorized by the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA), the federal law that gives effect to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

The MoU renewal under consideration covers artifacts dating from 75,000 B.C. through 907 A.D., as well as monumental and wall art 250+ years old.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

AUSA Molissa Farber
"It's not a case about coins that the Guild wants. This is a case about regulations that the Guild doesn't want." That's how Assistant United States Attorney Molissa Farber characterized the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild's (ACCG) latest argument before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Baltimore test case.

Both the ACCG and federal government offered oral arguments to the appeals court on March 22, marking the case's ninth year winding through the court system.

Listen to the arguments presented in U.S. v. Three Knife-Shaped Coins et al. here. Attorney Peter Tompa argued for the Guild, and Attorney Farber for the government.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Police have arrested two men in Barcelona, Spain for their alleged role in financing ISIS terrorism by acquiring and selling blood antiquities.

Georgi Kantchev of The Wall Street Journal reported that "Spanish police are holding two men suspected of trading in antiquities looted by groups linked to Islamic State, the first publicly announced detentions by Western authorities working to dismantle the terrorist group’s trade in plundered art."

Monday, March 5, 2018

https://www.asisonline.org/globalassets/foundation/documents/crisp-reports/archaeological-clunia_crisp-report.pdf
Click on the pic and read the ASIS CRISP Report.
Protecting heritage during times of war is a topic that receives significant attention. Just read about last October's Preserving Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict conference at Colgate University, or Sam Hardy's recent article about "Curbing the Spoils of War," or Neil Brodie's and Isber Sabrine's new publication titled "The Illegal Excavation and Trade of Syrian Cultural Objects: A View from the Ground."

Make no mistake, this issue deserves a spotlight because violent conflict creates fresh opportunities to sharply increase the trafficking of cultural heritage objects ravaged from archaeological sites.

But what about protecting archaeological sites during times of peace?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The University of Chicago no longer is in danger of losing ancient Iranian artifacts following Wednesday's United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Jenny Rubin, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran.

The university's Oriental Institute (OI) holds the "Persepolis Collection," which consists of approximately 30,000 archaeological artifacts on loan from the National Museum of Iran since 1937.

The cultural objects became the target of a civil suit after American terrorist victims tried to execute a multi-million dollar court judgment against Iran. When Iran failed to pay, the plaintiffs sought to execute their judgment by trying to acquire the Iranian artifacts at OI and others located at various cultural institutions throughout the United States.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Moxie is one of the working dogs spearheading the K-9 Artifact Finders project. The program aims to equip customs officers with a new tool to nab heritage traffickers by finding target scents linked to illegally looted artifacts.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Red Arch Cultural Heritage Law & Policy Research and the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center, in collaboration with the Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology), have launched the K-9 Artifact Finders research program. The project aims to fight cultural heritage crime with the help of working dogs.

“We must stop the crime of transnational antiquities trafficking,” says CHL's Rick St. Hilaire, founder and executive director of Red Arch Research. “And dogs may be the right law enforcement partner to get the job done,” adds Dr. Lou Ferland, retired police chief and head of The United States Police Canine Association, who serves as an advisor to the K-9 Artifact Finders project.