Thursday, 19 November 2015

Switzerland's Tough New Stance on Freeports Will Shake the Art World

Geneva Freeports (Photo via:
I would imagine this is not a good time to be in the antiquities market, all the old stand-bys are gradually being eroded away. Like the no-questions-asked freeport system (Henri Neuendorf, 'Switzerland's Tough New Stance on Freeports Will Shake the Art World'  Artnet, November 19, 2015)
The Swiss parliament approved stricter regulations for freeports and customs warehouses yesterday, according to a government announcement. The regulations are part of a wider crackdown on money laundering, smuggling, and other illegal activities that Switzerland has launched. The amendment to the Swiss Customs Act, which comes into effect on January 1, 2016, also grants the Federal Customs Administration (EZV) new power to monitor and control the entry and exit of goods more efficiently and effectively. Under the new regulations, the government introduced a six-month time limit on the storage of goods intended for export. 
To enhance transparency, the identity of the buyer of the goods that are to be exported to Swiss freeports must be declared. With the introduction of the new amendment, the legislature wishes to ensure the required transparency towards domestic and foreign authorities on the stored goods.
The days of collectors hiding their prized artworks from tax authorities could be numbered. Furthermore, the black market trade in illicit antiquities and stolen artworks will be significantly impacted by the requirement to reveal the contents of the crates going in and out of the duty-free warehouses. According to the Swiss publication Cash, a 2013 report by the Swiss Federal Audit Office determined that the long-term storage of goods with great value was found to be indicative of illegal storage for the purpose of tax optimization or to circumvent trade regulations on cultural goods or weaponry.
One wonders when the dealers will set up another petition to "protect collectors' rights"....

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