Hobby Lobby Agrees To Forfeit Thousands Of Smuggled Iraqi Artifacts And Will Pay A $3 Mil Fine


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The Department of Justice has taken Hobby Lobby to task for more than, overly expensive throw pillows, the arts and crafts megachain has illegally smuggled thousands of ancient artifacts from Iraq to their stores under the guise of being “ceramics” and “clay tile samples” while falsely declaring the items were from Turkey. According to the DoJ, over 5,000 artifacts were bought from a dealer in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 for $1.6 million in a transaction they described as “fraught with red flags.”

Hobby Lobby has settled the case by paying a $3 million fine and has forfeited the artifacts, which the US Attorney’s Office called priceless to the Iraqi people. Specifically, Special Agent Angel Melendez, leader of the investigation, said: “The protection of cultural heritage is a mission that Homeland Security Investigations and its partner US Customs and Border Protection take very seriously as we recognize that while some may put a price on these artifacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless.”

After Hobby Lobby agreed to forfeit the various artifacts and pay the fine, they released a statement through President Steve Green, saying: “Developing a collection of historically and religiously important books and artifacts about the Bible is consistent with the company’s mission and passion for the Bible. We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled.”

It’s unclear exactly why Green needed to use Hobby Lobby’s shipping labels to bring thousands of these tablets back to the States, but the Green family is currently bankrolling a museum of the Bible. The AP stated that: “Prosecutors say Hobby Lobby has agreed to adopt internal policies for importing cultural property and training its personnel.”

As a famous archeologist said…

(Via CNN/Slate)



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