Saturday, November 17, 2018

prosecutors 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.

The IAP, along with the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, on Thursday announced the expansion of the Counter Terrorism Prosecutors Network, which is a global network of counter-terrorism prosecutors and Mutual Legal Assistance contacts. IAP says the project will "improve CT prosecutors' knowledge and capacity to successfully engage in international cooperation in combating terrorism and organised crime."

Such a network may help prosecutors with cases like United States of America v. One Gold Ring with Carved Gemstone, An Asset of ISIL Discovered on Electronic Media of Abu Sayyaf, President of ISIL Antiquities Department et al. (16-cv-02442-TFH), which is pending in federal court in the District of Columbia. According to the prosecutors' filed complaint, "Abu Sayyaf’s antiquities trafficking directly financed ISIL," citing a direct link between the terror group's chief of antiquities and terrorist financing. Government attorneys argue that specifically identified cultural properties are subject to forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(G)(i) "as foreign assets of ISIL and as foreign assets affording a source of influence, as ISIL has and is engaged in planning and perpetrating federal crimes of terrorism as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2332b(g)(5)."

Digital evidence is a key component of the Abu Sayyaf case, and the IAP has declared that its new networking initiative will help prosecutors "effectively cooperate with their global counterparts in requesting and sharing digital evidence."

Photo credit: Sebastian Wendowski/freeimages.com

Text and original photos copyrighted 2010-2018 by Cultural Heritage Lawyer, a blog commenting on matters of cultural property law, art law, cultural heritage policy, antiquities trafficking, museum risk management, and archaeology. Blog url: culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission without the express written consent of CHL is strictly prohibited. The materials presented on this site are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as legal advice applicable to the reader’s specific situation. In addition, the provision of this information to the reader in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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.

IFFs occur when money crosses national borders as a consequence of unlawful conduct. The World Bank observes that IFFs fit into three categories: "The acts themselves are illegal (e.g., corruption, tax evasion); The funds are the results of illegal acts (e.g., smuggling and trafficking in minerals, wildlife, drugs, and people); or The funds are used for illegal purposes (e.g., financing of organized crime)." Looting antiquities, smuggling and selling illicit cultural heritage objects, and using the proceeds to fund organized crime are activities that readily fit into these categories.

To spot IFFs related to antiquities, dinosaur fossils, ethnological objects, and other cultural heritage material--particularly those of high value--customs officers need to be on the lookout for telltale signs such as over-invoiced exports or under-invoiced imports.

The United Nations Security Council encourages this kind of vigilance, having acknowledged the relationship between IFFs and cultural heritage crime. Resolution 2347, which the Security Council unanimously adopted last year, proclaimed that member nations are "strongly concerned about the links between the activities of terrorists and organized criminal groups that, in some cases, facilitate criminal activities, including trafficking in cultural property, illegal revenues and financial flows as well as money-laundering, bribery and corruption." (Emphasis added).

The study of financial flows associated with illicit cultural heritage trafficking is essential, especially given the important role of the internet today in the sale of antiquities.

Photo credit Jon Syverson/freeimages.com

Text and original photos copyrighted 2010-2018 by Cultural Heritage Lawyer, a blog commenting on matters of cultural property law, art law, cultural heritage policy, antiquities trafficking, museum risk management, and archaeology. Blog url: culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission without the express written consent of CHL is strictly prohibited. The materials presented on this site are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as legal advice applicable to the reader’s specific situation. In addition, the provision of this information to the reader in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.