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(Reuters) – The United States will return 3,800 antiquities to Iraq on Wednesday after it was discovered that it had been smuggled into the United States. Under a false identity and shipped to Hubei’s lobby stores, federal officials said.
The US Department of Justice filed a civil complaint in the Eastern District of New York in 2017 accusing the Hubei Group of buying 5,500 pieces of art in a total amount of $ 1.6 million in December 2010 from the United Arab Emirates. Several warnings from an expert on the property law ” And confiscation of artifacts. ”
Steve Green, a US art and crafts dealer, traveled to the United Arab Emirates in July of that year to inspect cuneiform discs and other antiques, the Justice Department said. A few months later, the company warned that these items were stolen from Iraq “but agreed to sell.
The customs and border guards found that the artifacts were shipped through the United Arab Emirates and Israel with “false and misleading” stickers to hide the contents of the shipments. The group agreed to a settlement in 2017 of about 144 cylinder items and paid an additional $ 3 million Civil “, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Green said last year his company had made “unfortunate mistakes.” “We should have exercised more supervision and carefully inquired about how to handle the acquisitions.”
“Our passion for the Bible continues, and we will do our utmost to support efforts to preserve the elements that will help to illuminate and enhance our understanding of this great book,” Green said. Hoppe Lopeg, the Oklahoma-based retailer chain,
An expert in the Law on Cultural Property warned that the artifacts coming from Iraq, including cuneiform plates and cylinder seals, could be stolen from archaeological sites.
What the expert told the company to look in their collections about things of Iraqi origin and make sure that the materials have been identified correctly. But this warning, the lobby did not benefit to buy thousands of monuments – including cuneiform plates, bricks, mud bubbles and cylindrical seals – for $ 1.6 million.
Some of the artifacts from the UAE carry shipping stickers falsely labeled as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample)” originating in Turkey. Other items were sent from Israel with false declarations from there.
In its statement, the Ministry of Justice said that “the acquisition of artifacts was stuffed with red flags.” The lobby staff did not meet the owner and merchant of the artifacts and made payments to seven bank accounts kept in the names of other people.
A museum linked to the lobby was opened in Washington, D.C., in Tsrin last year.
The Bible Museum, which covers an area of 430,000 square feet in one store, received $ 201 million of artifacts from the Hubei Lounge and rented storage space in Oklahoma from the store.
Some of the Iraqi tablets come from an ancient city but also include an important collection of talismans at an early stage of families and the bilingual religious text of the New Babylonian period. “Among the monuments are two clay mixtures with royal inscriptions from the first weeks of the first weeks and discs To 2100-1600 BC.