Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Terrorist Financing Risks and the Illegal Trade in Cultural Property

There is sufficient anecdotal evidence to conclude that the illegal trade in cultural property may constitute a source of funding for terrorist networks.* This judgment is tacitly acknowledged by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an independent inter-governmental organization that helps to identify, assess, and understand terrorist financing (TF) and money laundering (ML).

In recommendations published earlier this year, FATF expressly takes into account the illegal cultural property trade. Its 2013 guidance report titled "National Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment" describes categories that should be included when authorities assess terror funding and money laundering risks. The report lists illicit trafficking of cultural goods, counterfeiting of antiquities, and the illegal trade of antiquities. The report also identifies art and antique dealers and auction houses as businesses "that may be useful [to include] in building a list of the ML/TF vulnerabilities that can be exploited in regulated entities."

FATF recommends that risk assessments focused on terrorist financing and money laundering "should ultimately allow public authorities to make a judgment on the levels of the risks and priorities for mitigating those risks."

One policy response that authorities might consider is the adoption of record keeping laws that spotlight black market antiquities. Such laws would foster transparency, helping to separate the legal cultural property trade from the illegal trade and serving to identify potential ML/TF crimes. A proposal describing these laws can be found in "Spotlighting Black Market Antiquities with Record Keeping Laws."
* See e.g., Eti Bonn-Muller, Inside the Israel Antiquities Authority: Interview with Amir Ganor, Archeology.org, 2010,  http://www.archaeology.org/israel_antiquities_authority/ganor.html; Blood Antiques (LinkTV broadcast Oct. 8, 2009) (Available at https://www.journeyman.tv/film/4571/blood-antiques); S Fidler, A black art: how the trade in stolen artifacts aids money laundering, organized crime, and terrorism. Financial Times. (May 24, 2003).

Research credit: Jayna Sutherland.  Photo credit: darrendean.

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 INFORMATION: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com