Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Plea Deal Leaves Issues Unresolved

A NJ based coin dealer will forfeit ancient coins and cash as part of a plea deal related to federal tax charges.  Although the archaeological blogosphere will no doubt claim the plea deal supports the need for the recently completed MOU with Bulgaria, serious questions still remain whether the US should have entered into an agreement to restrict Americans from importing the exact same sorts of coins openly traded within Bulgaria itself and the rest of the EU.   In that regard, it's also interesting to note that at least based on this press report, federal authorities have also apparently backed away from any claims the coins to be forfeited were "stolen" under Bulgarian law, presumably for that exact same reason.  For federal courts to consider cultural artifacts to be stolen under Bulgarian law, the government would have had to show that Bulgarian law vested absolute title to such coins in the Bulgarian state and that this law was consistently applied at home.

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