The US Public Prosecution announced that it has condemned the Hobby Lobby corporation for smuggling priceless ancient Iraqi artifacts to the United States.
According to a report in the Washington Post, the number of ancient artifacts smuggled in 2010 is about 5000 pieces worth more than 1.5 million dollars. The pieces included sculptures, coins, and historical mudstones.
According to the US Department of Justice, the company agreed to buy the pieces, despite the existence of major problems relating to the way the items are shipped and described in the shipping documents, and the smuggling was carried out across the UAE and Israel. Hobby Lobby will hand over all the pieces to the US authorities and pay a 3 dollars million fine. The United States will return the ancient artifacts to the Iraqi government.
Hobby Lobby Chairman Steve Green said that the company had to do more control procedures on such deals, and it didn’t appreciate the complexity of the acquisition of ancient artifacts at that time. He also said that his company cooperated with the authorities and that what happened was a mistake. However, the US authorities confirmed from its side that an expert hired by Hobby Lobby in October 2010 had warned the company that the ancient artifacts are probably from Iraq and they may have been looted from archaeological sites there but it seems that the company ignored the warning.