Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cambodian Import Restrictions Extended as Forfeiture Dispute Turns Nasty

The Federal Register has announced an extension of current import restrictions on Cambodian cultural goods for yet another five years.  Although the CPIA contemplates that import restrictions will only continue for a limited period to give source countries time to address looting,  State and Customs routinely continue them.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has reported on the accusations being traded between Sotheby's and the Government in a forfeiture action involving a Khmer statue.  These touch on CPAC and the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center, which also have responsibility for import restrictions.  The Government accuses Jane Levine, a former prosecutor and current CPAC member, of misrepresentations about the provenance of the statue in her capacity as the director of Sotheby's regulatory compliance department.  In the meantime, Sotheby's accuses an employee of the State Department Cultural Heritage Center of dreaming up a dubious theory to justify the government's seizure after a CBP agent (who presumably worked with Ms. Levine in her days as a prosecutor) misrepresented the strength of the government's case to Sotheby's.

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