Wednesday, 14 November 2012

More Details of Kapoor Case Emerge

An article in the Hindu newspaper summarises the development of the case against Subhash Kapoor, this however leaves a number of issues not resolved. The reporter suggests that Kapoor was not the first member of his family to have indulged in trading South Asian art objects of unclear provenance and collecting history. His own troubles are reported as starting from the seizure of two consignments sent from India in February 2007 to "the Nimbus Import-Export Corporation in the U.S".
Kapoor [...] had apparently made a rare mistake. Instead of having the consignment, which ICE said in a public statement were worth over $20 million, sent to intermediaries in Singapore, London and elsewhere as per standard operating procedure, Kapoor was said to have committed the error of having it directly sent to him from India. 
Kapoor was questioned by the US authorities, surrendered the contents of the shipment (no mention is made of what happened to them subsqequently) and walked free with a warning. According to the newspaper:
a cooperating defendant reportedly said Kapoor was still looking for fresh artefacts between April 2008 and October 2011. At that time, an anonymous letter was also sent to Homeland Security Investigations in New York (HSI/NY) giving detailed information on Kapoor and his illicit cultural property activities. 
As a result (?) Kapoor was arrested in Europe and ended up in Indian custody.  It is at this stage unclear whether the "cooperating defendant" was the sender of the "anonymous letter". Mention is made of the ICE allegedly recording "admissions of dealing in stolen or looted property, confessions of manufacturing false provenance, documented proof", but whether the author of the article has established that this was in comnnection with the 2007 or a later investigation is not clarified.  The article also mentions a London contact who is alleged to have been involved in antiquities smuggling as one of kapoor's associates and it is also suggested that he is "known" (to whom?) to have been involved in narcotics smuggling. What, if anything, the British authorities will do about any of this remains to be seen.

The text is mainly focussed on the issue of when and how any stolen artefacts will return to India, and stresses the complications of getting correlation between several parallel and ongoing investigations, then of course the legal problems there are going to be getting any identified stiolen artefacts out of the hands of the curators of the several 'major museums' that have acquired them.

Narayan Lakshman, ' Exposing a multi-decade smuggling operation', The Hindu November 11, 2012.

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