Wednesday, April 1, 2015

From Cyrene to London via Dubai

Statue from Cyrene
Source: Daily Telegraph
A UK court viewed a female statue apparently from Cyrene in Libya as part of an investigation into the movement of recently surfaced antiquities (Victoria Wood, "Court sits at British Museum for first time as judge studies looted Libyan sculpture", March 30, 2015 Daily Telegraph 2015). The statue, worth some £2 million, entered the UK via Dubai and was seized in a warehouse by a customs official. There were indications that the statue had been removed from the ground relatively recently.

The report informs us:
Jordanian, Riad Al Qassas, who does not reside in the UK, is accused of falsifying paperwork after telling customs that the sculpture came from Turkey, rather than Libya, and was worth £60,000, rather than between £1.5m to £2m. 
He denies one count of knowingly or recklessly delivering a false document to HMRC on November 1 last year.
It seems like another instance of paperwork being "falsified" in order to allow such objects to move freely. But there is more:
Andrew Bird, for HMRC, has told the court that documents suggest Al Qassas had only a marginal role in the export. He claimed Hassan Fazeli, a Dubai businessman who has claimed the sculpture has belonged to his family collection since 1977, was behind the crime. 
Mr Bird said the false documents were submitted by Hassan Fazeli Trading Company LLC, which is based in Dubai, and which was last year accused by New York prosecutors of illegally bringing five ancient Egypt artefacts into the USA.
The Telegraph is not quite accurate. The case in the USA was in 2013 (Lucile Scott, "Uncle Sam Seizes Ancient Egyptian Art", Courthouse News March 22 2013).
They were purchased from the Hassan Fazeli Trading Company in Dubai by Salem Alshdaifat, who "sells ancient coins and other antiques" online through a business called Holyland Numismatics, according to the complaint. U.S. Customs seized the package, sent by FedEx, as it entered the country through Newark International Airport in August 2010. 
The Customs officer became suspicious because the invoice identified the items as "Ancient Egyptian," but listed the country of manufacture as Turkey.
And there is specific discussion of the way that paperwork is prepared.
But the government claims that Fazeli, the exporter, admitted to a confidential source that he often "lists incorrect countries of origin to circumvent cultural patrimony and export laws. In particular, Fazeli acknowledged that he often supplied 'Turkey' as the country of origin because he had Turkish papers that he could use."
This is not the first link between Holyland Numismatics and Dubai (see LM).


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

No comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails