It seems the extent of the lack of truth and transparency about ancient artefacts exported by US dealers goes further than not declaring what is in a package. Dealer "Edgar Owen" [http://EdgarLOwen.com] (Re: Misdescription? Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:28 am PDT) adds the issue of
'stating a lower than actual value which many buyers request sellers to do to reduce the likelihood of postal theft and often exorbitant customs duties'.That's like declaring a lower income that the actual figure to avoid paying income taxes, illeghal in my country and hardly considered as being an 'ethical' business practice. How often does this go on in the Antiquities Trade Scam?
Here are the US penalties for the act.... Not something to be sneezed at I would say. Dealer Dave chortles that 'I have never heard of a criminal prosecution for falsifying a customs form', which basically just goes to show how little he knows about the matter as a few moment's search will show up a number of recent cases.
Dealer Dave mansplains:
The issue however is what constitutes "misrepresentation." To describe an ancient coin as a "numismatic specimen" is not misrepresentation. It is an accurate statement that avoids use of a word that can lead to unwarranted and unnecessary problems, caused by use of the word "coin" and its plural in a customs declaration.Like a dealer attempting to pass a smuggled Egyptian sarcophagus off on its entry into the US as 'antique wooden panels', and other valuable articles which are prohibited are described as something else, like Cambodian statues looted from temples as modern garden ornaments. Another case of 'garden ornaments' coming from the Middle East is discussed here. These and other attempts to 'launder antiquities by misdescription' are trying to avoid a customs official of the importing country of asking for verifiable document of title and adherence to all the relevant procedures concerning entry onto the market and removal from the source country. In the case of Yahoo dealers exporting or importing coins, that is what this would be about if the objects concerned came from a dealer who had acquired them in a manner careless of obtaining the supporting paperwork.
It seems special pleading for Dealer Dave to suggest that examples cited above are in some way different to what he and fellow portable antiquities dealers do:
The case cited was evidently a clear case of knowingly and intentionally smuggling illicit antiquities into the U.S., with criminal intent, which is a very different thing from lawfully exporting ancient coins from [one] to another nation and describing them in the Customs declaration in a judiciously worded, but nevertheless accurate, manner. [...] I [...] think of such judicious descriptions as intelligently avoiding unnecessary and inappropriate difficulties, without actually departing from the truth. [...] In the case of honest reputable dealers such as myself, Ken and Edgar I do not perceive any likelihood of criminal intent being construed by the authorities as a result of our making judiciously worded, technically accurate declarations for the purpose of averting unnecessary and unwarranted detentions in Customs, with all the exasperating complications [...]
They. Can't. Touch. You. For. It.