The Impact of Money Laundering Measures upon the Art Trade
International conventions encouraging States to enact money laundering legislation were initially concerned with fighting the drug trade. However, money laundering measures now have a much wide scope and are intended to deter serious crime in general. This paper considers the extent to which European money laundering legislation affects transactions involving the sale and purchase of art and antiquities. For example, do they curb the illicit trade in cultural property? In considering this issue, it is important to consider the nature of the art trade and the relationship of trust and confidentiality which normally exists between sellers and dealers. Although it might be argued that money laundering measures do not go far enough, it must be appreciated that there are serious disadvantages with legislation which is too time-consuming and burdensome in its application. The paper will conclude by considering whether a European or international database for stolen and illegally removed cultural objects should be established which will provide details of the provenance of objects. Such a database could be used not only to alert purchasers to the fact that an object has been wrongly taken but also with a view to acting as a reference point for civil and criminal law actions.
Keywords: Cultural Property, Money Laundering, Illicit Trade
Leverhulme Research Fellow, Durham Law School, University of Durham