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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Iraqi artefacts lead to fine and forfeiture for US retailer

Hobby Lobby agrees to pay $3 million for "intentionally mislabelling" goods

A Hobby Lobby store in Oklahoma City. Federal prosecutors say Hobby Lobby Stores has agreed to pay a US$3 million fine and forfeit thousands of ancient artefacts smuggled from Iraq. Sue Ogrocki : AP
A Hobby Lobby store in Oklahoma City. Federal prosecutors say Hobby Lobby Stores has agreed to pay a US$3 million fine and forfeit thousands of ancient artefacts smuggled from Iraq. Sue Ogrocki : AP

Federal prosecutors say Hobby Lobby Stores has agreed to pay a US$3 million federal fine and forfeit thousands of ancient Iraqi artefacts that the government alleges were intentionally mislabelled.

Prosecutors filed a civil complaint in New York on Wednesday in which Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby consented to the fine and forfeiture of thousands of cuneiform tablets, bricks and other artefacts that prosecutors say were shipped without proper documentation.

Prosecutors say acquisition of the artefacts "was fraught with red flags" and that packages bore shipping labels that described their contents as "ceramic tiles." Prosecutors say Hobby Lobby agreed to adopt internal policies for importing cultural property and training its personnel.

The Hobby Lobby President Steve Green said the company cooperated with the government and should have exercised more oversight.

* AP