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Beyond being used as tools by which to launder money, in some cases antiquities themselves can have dubious or illegal origins, including having been looted or stolen during instability to finance and prolong conflict. As the Financial Action Task Force FATF has warned , art and antiquities are particularly vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing, which often go hand-in-hand.

Crime in the art and antiquities world : illegal trafficking in cultural property

The Green Family, who owns Hobby Lobby, have made international headlines this year following their acquisition and then repatriation of thousands of illicit antiquities looted from Iraq during recent conflicts in the region. Failing to practice due diligence risks incurring government fines or having property confiscated. While the fines incurred in this case related to stolen objects, it is time to increase prosecutions for art-related financial crimes.

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In terms of government recognition of the problem, terrorist financing through cultural property has received significant attention, while other financial crimes have remained comparatively under-addressed. Security Council members. Blood antiquities were identified as a means of funding for terrorist organizations, and the finance ministers committed to take necessary steps to prevent these goods from entering their countries.

ISPAC - Crime in the Art and Antiquities World

In , the U. Security Council passed unanimous resolution , calling on all member states to prohibit the cross-border trade in cultural property when the property originates from an armed conflict zone or lacks certified provenance. The international recognition of the implications of illicit cultural property trade underscore the importance of the issue but do not adequately address the role of financial institutions in facilitating money laundering in the art market.

While this bill represents progress in the U. A Transparency International report on money laundering risks in global markets notes that the Panama Papers revealed a considerable number of cases of art held in shell companies. By facilitating the acquisition of an Egyptian papyrus, a Cambodian statue or a Mayan vase on Madison Avenue, financial institutions may be putting money into the pockets of nefarious actors, including terrorist networks.

Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime

Enhanced levels of transparency, increased knowledge of the problem within the financial sector, and targeted action from governments will help ensure that art and antiquities acquisitions are not undermining the very laws we have designed to make the world a more transparent, prosperous place.

The Latest. The Numbers The U. The Market Recognizes Its Money Laundering Problem The market itself has increasingly recognized its own vulnerability to financial crimes.


It aims at promoting and linking pertinent national and international research made by entities and Universities holding courses in the field of cultural heritage law, with a particular focus on the UNIDROIT Convention. It also wishes to promote the development of specific programs or modules. The purpose of the meeting was to gather experts from various fields in order to testify their experience on the topic and imagine future steps to take in order to fight, on a global scale, destruction, looting and illicit trade of cultural heritage.

Click here for more info. Click here for more information about the 4 th Meeting of States Parties to the Convention. The Ministerial meeting attended by Prof. The Declaration signed by the seven Ministers of Culture urges States to strengthen safeguarding and preservation of cultural heritage, to identify and share appropriate best practices for fighting every form of illegal activity in this field, as well as to ratify the existing relevant Conventions against trafficking in cultural property such as the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.

Joint Declaration of the Ministers of Culture of G7.


Shot of the conference room. The forum brought together Ministers with responsibility for security portfolios, senior police officials, representatives from the private sector as well as experts to collectively address common issues and to identify their responsibility in implementing a global policing architecture to combat future threats. Shot of the seated audience. More information.