Hobby Lobby agreed Wednesday to hand over thousands of illicit Iraqi artifacts and cough up $3 million to settle a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.
The Justice Department filed a civil complaint Wednesday against Hobby Lobby for its acquisition of likely stolen Iraqi artifacts, and the company agreed to return the objects and pay the hefty fine in order to settle, The New York Post reports.
“American collectors and importers must ensure compliance with laws and regulations that require truthful declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so that Customs officers are able to scrutinize cultural property crossing our borders and prevent the inappropriate entry of such property,” Acting United States Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said in a statement Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors report that, in or around 2009, Hobby Lobby began to acquire culturally significant artifacts from Iraq. In 2010, a lawyer with an expertise in cultural property law warned company officials that the artifacts carried the “risk that such objects may have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq.”
Prosecutors report that, despite the warnings, Hobby Lobby agreed to buy 5,500 artifacts for $1.6 million. The goods were packaged with misleading labels and sent to three separate locations in Oklahoma Cty.
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