Hobby Lobby fined $3 million over smuggled Iraqi artifacts

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Federal prosecutors say Hobby Lobby Stores has agreed to pay a $3 million federal fine and forfeit thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts that the government alleges were intentionally mislabeled.

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 artifacts that prosecutors say were shipped without proper documentation.

Prosecutors say acquisition of the artifacts “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.

In a statement, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green says the company cooperated with the government and should have exercised more oversight.

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