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Antiquities Coalition Applauds House Financial Services Committee For Working To Close Money Laundering Loophole

June 6, 2018

The Antiquities Coalition is proud to support the Illicit Art and Antiquities Trafficking Protection Act (H.R. 5886) — which will help to close the $26.6 billion American art market to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other crimes.

H.R. 5886 was introduced to the House of Representatives on May 18, 2018, by Congressman Luke Messer. The bill removes art and antiquities dealers’ current exemption from the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), which requires certain businesses to assist the U.S. government in detecting and preventing financial crimes. The BSA, along with other anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws, require luxury and cash-intensive industries to satisfy certain recordkeeping requirements as well as identify and report possible criminal activity.

Dealers in precious metals, stones, and jewels are already subject to the BSA, as are sellers of automobiles, planes, and boats, casinos, pawnbrokers, real estate professionals, and travel agencies. However, to date, the multi-billion art market has been excluded. This is despite known cases of money laundering and terrorist financing schemes funded by art.

By applying the BSA to dealers of art and antiquities, H.R. 5886 is taking a much needed first step. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has long warned that cultural property is providing one of several means of funding for money launderers and terrorist organizations. The market itself has increasingly recognized its own vulnerability to financial crimes. The market itself has increasingly recognized its own vulnerability to financial crimes. The Basel Art Trade Guidelines warn, “In comparison with other trade sectors, the art market faces a higher risk of exposure to dubious trade practices” due to its higher volume of legally questionable transactions.

H.R. 5886 is currently under review by the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to the economy, as well as efforts to counter terrorist financing The Antiquities Coalition has written to the House Financial Services Committee to commend them for their leadership in putting forward this bill. Read our letter of support here.