Hobby Lobby Fined $3 Million Following Smuggling Charge

Rufina Vignone
Luglio 12, 2017

"At no time did Hobby Lobby ever purchase items from dealers in Iraq or from anyone who indicated that they acquired items from that country", Green said in his statement.

The Department of Justice says thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae, originally from Iraq, were smuggled into the United States via the United Arab Emirates and Israel in packages shipped to the Oklahoma-based company.

The Justice Department announced a settlement with the Oklahoma-based store chain on Wednesday, which says Hobby Lobby began bringing the items into the country, from Iraq, almost a decade ago.

Around 10 packages were shipped to the firm, five intercepted by customs which had shipping labels falsely declaring that the artifacts came from Turkey.

The artifacts were destined for a display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC., which is slated to open in November later this year.

The privately-held $4 billion company claimed that it was "new to the world" of acquiring antiquities, and it "did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process". "Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of today's settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved". Visit an antique shop in the UAE's Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Sharjah, and there is a good chance that numerous items for sale are from Afghanistan. Knowingly or unwittingly, Hobby Lobby is just one more recipient of such antiquities due to another society that has long found itself in disarray. The museum is founded and funded by the owners of Hobby Lobby, the Green family.

Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio.

In 2014 the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of Hobby Lobby and another corporation, allowing them to refuse contraceptive coverage to female employees on religious grounds.

The DOJ said the company smuggled the artifacts into the United States, and the arts and crafts chain on Wednesday agreed to a settlement with the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY. In addition, the company's president and a consultant had traveled to the UAE to inspect cuneiform tablets and other items.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Justice Department said that Hobby Lobby will forfeit the artifacts and pay $3 million to settle civil charges filed against the company.

The federal complaint described the suspicious activity surrounding the purchase, including that the company never met the dealer and it wired payments to seven different bank accounts.

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