Saturday, 7 September 2013

Investigation on Bulgaria ancient coins smuggling in U.S. continues

News you will not see on the blogs of Sayles, Tompa, De La Fe or Welsh; the HSI want the coin collecting community to know that investigation on the smuggling of some 546 ancient Bulgarian coins, which were seized in the U.S. and returned to Bulgaria, continues (FOCUS News Agency, 'Investigation on Bulgaria ancient coins smuggling in U.S. continues', 07 September 2013)
In September 2011, HSI special agents learned of a shipment of ancient coins from Bulgaria destined for the United States. HSI New York, in close coordination with CBP’s Customs Air Cargo Examination Facility, examined and seized the coins. An investigation of the coins revealed the shipment contained a false country of origin, a false description of the commodity and were undervalued.
The coins were returned to Bulgaria on May 21, 2013 at a special ceremony at the Bulgarian Consulate General in New York.
HSI Special Agent Thomas Mulhall, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Investigations and Repatriations Program (CPAA), announced the news at a briefing, Radio FOCUS correspondent to Washington announced. Mulhall added that the criminal investigation takes place in Newark, New Jersey. The coins were seized in a post parcel, they were not smuggled by a person. They were sent by post, to a post box in Newark, at the seaport, that is why the investigation takes place there, Thomas Mulhall explained. In his words, the cooperation with the Bulgarian authorities is at a very high level. He added that over the past six months two officers with the U.S. service visited Bulgaria to take part in a conference on coordination and training.
Readers will remember that at the handover ceremony, James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York, said "Today our two countries send a message to those who mistakenly perceive cultural theft as a low-risk, high-return business". It looks like they may not be kidding.

Readers might also remember the attempts of the coiney lobby back in May to attempt to deflect attention from the potential implications of this seizure:
'Something's Missing All Right...',  Friday, 24 May 2013
'Bulgarian Dugup Coin Seizure: The View from Washington', Saturday, 25 May 2013
'Bulgarian Dugup Coin Seizure: The View From Baltimore County', Monday, 27 May 2013
'Washington Legal Firm's "CPO" can't keep his eye on the ball ?', Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Cultural Property Observer said...

There's a difference between "cultural theft" and misrepresentations on customs forms. If it's legal to sell the same material in Bulgaria, how can it be "cultural theft?" Please explain. I believe that everyone should declare things properly, but shame on HSI for going after Americans for what is legal for Bulgarians.

Paul Barford said...

So you are claiming it is legal in Bulgaria to buy and sell smuggled coins?

That is what the rest of us call "misrepresentation on customs forms", isn't it?

It's as illegal in Bulgaria as it is anywhere else and your clients would be well advised not to hear any advice from you to the contrary should they choose to go to Bulgaria to buy coins...

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