This text by a highly respected numismatic broker illustrates why we need to stop these MOUs right now, they make it impossible to collect anything.
Tue Aug 16, 2016 7:35 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "ROBERT KOKOTAILO" calgarycoins You have hit the nail on the head with respect to the USA system. There are complexities few people understand.
First there is the Law, which is the US cultural property act. Then there are the MOU's which are not laws but rather agreements between countries as to how restrictions will be applied. Then there are the directions the US state department gives to US customs officials as to how to apply things. There are conflicts in these that are the focus of what ACCG has been fighting. For example:
1) The actual USA cultural property law states that the country of origin for any object is "country of discovery", which could mean several things including where it was excavated, or discovered in an old collection. The state department has instructed customs officials to assume country of origin is the "country of manufacture", which is complete different than"country of discovery". Thus the law says a South Italian object "discovered" in France is a French cultural property item and subject to any French export regulations. The MOU system and State Department instructions say the same object is subject to Italy export restrictions and if seized in US customs would be returned to Italy, not France.
2) Provenance requirements are also in conflict. The actual US law says any of the following are valid forms of provenance for import into the US.
A) Documentation such as a catalogue listing or receipt that shows the items was outside of the country or origin prior to the MOU.What the state department has instructed customs officials to accept is photographic evidence only, such as a picture of the object in a printed catalogue that was clearly printed prior to the MOU passing and thus cannot be falsified. They are not supposed to accept any statement by sell or imported even under oath. They are not supposed to accept receipts without or without photographs showing the item was purchased before the MOU as such documents are easily falsified. You would think if the law says something is acceptable in plain English, forcing US customs to accept it would be simple. You would be wrong.
B) A declaration from the seller that he has reason to believe the object was outside of the country prior to the MOU, which must be in writing and signed, stating his reasons for such, but need not be under oath.
C) A declaration by the importer that he has reason to believe the object was out of the country of origin prior to the MOU, stating his reasons but his declaration must be given under oath and if you think lying under oath to a US legal official is to be taken lightly, you are in for a shock when you end up in prison.
ACCG has been fighting them on these conflicts, without success, for years. They even looked at taking it to the US supreme court, but could not get them to even look at the case (not important enough for their busy schedule). But even if they did it can cost hundred's of thousand dollars to take a case to the Supreme court, an amount that would be a challenge although it might be raised if one could get on the docket. One list member said he had documentation for all of his objects and would not be afraid to being them to the US. I don't doubt he can meet the standard as set out by the actual law. I wonder if he can meet the standard as set out the MOU's and State Department instructions. Robert Kokotailo