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Arrests in Greece

News is emerging of 26 arrests linked to a network supplying antiquities (including coins) to outlets in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the UK (Helen Stoilas, "Police in Greece arrest 26 in bust of alleged antiquities smuggling ring", The Art Newspaper 5 October 2016). It appears that more than 50 people were involved in the network.

It is reported:
The two alleged ringleaders of the gang were arrested on Sunday at the Greek-Bulgarian border, and had almost 1,000 coins and small artefacts hidden in the bumper of their car. Police said they have recovered a cache of more than 2,000 objects, mostly coins, but including gold jewellery, bronze figurines, ancient glassware and some larger stone and marble statues.
A number of metal detectors were recovered.

A spokesperson for the Greek police is mentioned, "Police said the works were sold using fake provenance documents attributing them to private collections in Europe, but that the auction houses involved (which have not been named) knew the coins were illicit property and often helped inflate the final prices paid for them."

This raises the question that there is a lack of rigour in the due diligence process adopted by some, as yet unnamed, dealers. However if any of those dealers have been linked in previous cases there needs to be a full investigation of internal procedures.

The case is a reminder of why coins need to form part of MOUs.


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The economic crisis has probably had an influence in increasing this type of illicit trade.

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