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The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild has become a driving force in the ongoing effort to protect coin collectors and museums in which coins are stored from being forced to give up these items to foreign governments under the premise the coins are the cultural patrimony of the claimant nation. — Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News April 26, 2010

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FOIA suit filed against DOS

The ACCG is joined by IAPN and PNG in a complaint filed against the U.S. State Department

November 17, 2007

The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG), an advocacy group for private collectors and independent scholars, has announced the filing on November 15, 2007 of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U. S. State Department. According to Wayne G. Sayles, executive director of the guild, this action became unavoidable due to “persistent refusal of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide the guild and others with information relating to requests for import restrictions.” The State Department recently imposed unprecedented import restrictions on ancient coins from Cyprus—requiring importers of even a single common coin of “Cypriot type” to provide unfair, unworkable and unnecessary documentation.

The ACCG and others formally asked the State Department under FOIA for information relating to requests from Cyprus, China and Italy because, in each case, apparent irregularities in the way these requests were received and managed had caused significant concerns. Members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives also requested similar information on behalf of the ACCG and others. “None of these avenues produced responsive replies” said Peter K. Tompa, ACCG president. “The reason for this lawsuit is that the State Department has refused to provide meaningful information. We seek transparency and fairness of the process by which decisions affecting the American people are made.” The ACCG, joined in this suit by the International Association of Professional Numismatists and the Professional Numismatists Guild, is represented by Washington DC attorney Scott A. Hodes. Mr. Hodes is a former FOIA and Privacy Act attorney for the Department of Justice and the FBI.

The imposition of import restrictions is a remedy made available to the State Department by the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) enacted in 1983. This law, while providing emergency protection for endangered cultural property, includes a detailed and comprehensive series of safeguards to limit overreaching implementation of the 1970 UNESCO accord that it is based on. The fair and equitable application of this law is viewed by the coin collector community and associated trade as essential to achieving any measure of protection on a broad and continuing scale. The ACCG argues that fairness and equity can only be satisfied by a system that is transparent and subject to oversight. It is hoped that this lawsuit will help encourage the State Department to revamp its procedures to ensure the fundamental fairness to all that the law demands.



Those wishing to support this and other potential legal action on behalf of the ACCG may make donations by credit card or paypal through the donation link at the bottom of the front page of the ACCG web site at http://accg.us. Donations by check may be mailed to Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, P.O. Box 911, Gainesville, MO 65655.

Tags:
state department
cyprus
cpia
wayne g. sayles
china
lawsuit
italy
peter k. tompa
foia
iapn
png
unesco

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