Thursday, 23 May 2013

Money Launderers Using No-Questions-Asked Art Market to Cover Criminality

Of course antiquity sales is a very good example of all the tendencies discussed in this article from the Jewish Voice (Boruch Shubert, 'Money Launderers Using Art to Cover Criminality', 22 May 2013 )  which primarily has in mind other forms of "art"):
New revelations by law enforcement officials in both the United States and overseas show how money launderers – ever eager to find new ways to cover up their criminal deeds – are utilizing thousands of expensive artworks to disguise their illegitimate profits and unlawfully transfer assets on an international scale. Seeking ways to circumvent stricter government oversight of classical money-laundering methods, purveyors of such nefarious activity as smuggling, arms dealing and drug trafficking are taking advantage of the harder-to-track art market in much greater numbers than before.[...] The lucrative art market has become the money laundering vehicle of choice for so many because it is devoid of the legal safeguards found in most other industries. [...] it is relatively easy to move a painting from one country to another; the price of such an item can be raised or lowered by millions of dollars arbitrarily; and the identities of purchasers and sellers tend to be kept secret with a vengeance, leaving law enforcement to merely speculate who was actually involved, the source of the money and whether the price was suspicious. 
New legislation in the EU and USA has been instituted to deal with this problem, but is insufficient. The article appears to be a plug for a soon-to-be-published book, "Money Laundering Through Art", by Fausto Martin De Sanctis. This calls for more focused international regulation of the art market.  For their part, art dealers try to play down the role of art sales in the criminal underworld.
Art dealers and their clients are greatly reluctant to relinquish the trademark secrecy that is historically embedded within their business practices. In fact, the Art Dealers Association of America scoffs at the very notion that using art as a means of laundering money is a serious concern. “The issue is not an industry-wide problem and really does not pertain to us,” insisted Lily Mitchem Pearsall, the association’s spokeswoman.
Well, they would would they not? But if they are so sure of that, why not let's have the transparency from them they demand of lawmakers who produce regulations which affect the industry? Then we will see for ourselves.

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