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AC Financial Crimes Task Force Chairs Welcome NDAA Regulations in New York Times Article

January 1, 2021

As we announced in a press statement here, on January 1, Congress passed H.R.6395, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA)—which, among other things, removes antiquities dealers’ current exemption from what are now standard anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

We followed this post with two additional blogs, one answering frequently asked questions and one delving into what changes should come next.

Major news outlets were equally eager to explore the history and implications of this anti-money laundering milestone, with the New York Times publishing an article on the topic on its website on January 1.

In writing “Congress Poised to Apply Banking Regulations to Antiquities Market,” New York Times contributor Zachary Small spoke with John Byrne, who serves not only as AMLRightSource’s executive vice president, but also as a chair on the Antiquities Coalition’s Financial Crimes Task Force.

“We believe this type of legislation is long overdue,” Byrne said in a quote. “This is an area where clearly organized crime, terrorists, and oligarchs have used cultural artifacts to move illicit funds.”

Small also interviewed Antiquities Coalition Executive Director and Financial Crimes Task Force Chair Tess Davis.

“The proposed legislation will begin to close a major loophole,” Davis said in a quote, highlighting the long-standing discrepancy between pawn shops, which are regulated by the Bank Secrecy Act, and auction houses, which have historically been exempt. “Why should the rules be stricter for a mom-and-pop business hawking stereos in Milwaukee than a billion-dollar auction house in Manhattan?”

In the kicker, Small returns to Byrne, who debunks the primary talking point of those in the art world who oppose increased regulation.

“You have to know who is buying and selling,” Byrne said in a quote. “The argument that you have no obligation to report suspicious activity because you are in the private sector doesn’t work. Banks lost that argument 30 years ago.”

To read the full New York Times article, click here.