Hobby Lobby to pay $3 million fine, forfeit ancient artifacts
(CNN) Hall of Mania has agreed to waive thousands of modern Iraq artifacts and pay a $ 3 million fine to resolve a civil lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice against the company, according to court documents .
The Justice Ministry said the company received the false-tagged artifacts from a UAE-based supplier.
Artifacts, ancient cuneiform tablets and clay bubbles are smuggled into the United States by the United Arab Emirates and Israel, justice officials said. Cuneiform is an ancient writing system in clay tablets that was used in Mesopotamia and the clay bubbles are clay balls on which the stamps have been printed.
Distributors working with hobby hall falsely labeled shipments as “pottery” and “samples” and sent them illegally at Hobby Lobby stores and two corporate offices, according to the Department of Justice.
The arts and crafts chain settled Wednesday with the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Hall of Mania said he had cooperated with the investigation.
“In 2009, the hall of mania began to acquire a great variety of historical Bibles and other artifacts.
The development of a historically and religiously meaningful collection of objects about the Bible is consistent with the mission and passion of the Bible company, “said Hall of Mania in a statement.
“We should have exercised greater and carefully monitored how the acquisitions in question have been handled,” said Steve Green Hall president Steve Green in the statement.
“Hall of mania has cooperated with the government through its investigation and, with the announcement of today’s agreement is satisfied that the problem has been resolved.”
Green and a consultant traveled to the UAE in July 2010 to inspect the artefacts for sale, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“In October 2010, a legal expert of cultural property held by hall of mania has warned the company that the acquisition of cultural goods that tend to be from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylindrical seals, danger that these objects were Looted from archeological sites in Iraq, “the Foreign Ministry said.
“The expert also advises hall of mania to examine his collection of antiques for any object of Iraqi origin and verify that the country of origin has been properly declared at the time of its importation into the United States.”
The expert told the mania corridor that poor reporting country could result in the confiscation of customs and border protection artifacts, according to the Justice Department.
Despite warnings from the legal expert of cultural property, hobby hall has launched an agreement to buy artifacts 5,548 to $ 1.6 million in December 2010, a deal “full of warning signs,” said the Ministry in justice.
“The protection of cultural heritage is a mission that US and US Customs and Border Protection investigations take very seriously, because we recognize that while some may price these artifacts, Iraqis see them as they do not have Price, “said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge, who led the investigation with the Office of the Federal Prosecutor.
Following the research, Hall of Mania is committed to implement policies in the purchase of cultural goods, to provide necessary staff training, hiring qualified consultants and customs agents and customs to submit quarterly reports to the government of a Cultural asset it buys for the next eighteen months, according to the Justice Department.
Correction: This story has been edited to clarify which hall of the mania has received artifacts falsely labeled from the manufacturer, according to the Ministry of Justice. UAE-based distributors involved in transactions were falsely labeled as “pottery” and “samples” and illegally sent to Hobby Lobby stores and affiliated companies in the United States, according to the ministry.