Is the State Department now Hiding the Ball from our Elected Representatives in Congress? A commentary by Peter K. Tompa regarding a recent State Department report.
The Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (“CPIA”) Section 303 (g) required the State Department to report to Congress about the extension of import restrictions on cultural artifacts at the behest of Cyprus. The State Department issued such a report on August 29, 2007, a copy of which was just recently obtained.
This report fails to address the key question that is required to be answered under CPIA Section 303 (g) (2), i.e. did the State Department reject the Cultural Property Advisory Committee’s recommendations before imposing unprecedented import restrictions on coins, and, if so, why?
The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild and others interested in the legitimate international exchange of historical coins have a credible basis to believe that the Cultural Property Advisory Committee DID NOT depart from its prior recommendation to exempt coins of Cypriot types from import restrictions. If so, given the silence of the report to Congress on the subject, it is quite possible that the State Department is yet again hiding the ball—this time from our elected representatives.
If so, this is yet another troubling episode in the State Department’s handling of the Cypriot request for import restrictions.
Is there any good news? Well yes, though it is of a minor sort. Recently, the State Department, in an otherwise unannounced move, took down the image of a coin misidentified as a coin of Cypriot type on its “images database.” Unfortunately, other concerns with that database remain, including technical errors related to the weights of certain coin types, the failure to provide promised information about “mint marks” on coins of Cypriot types, misleading entries that suggest that Hellenistic coins of Alexander the Great and his successors were all struck in Cyprus and the failure to include a disclaimer that Customs cannot assume that the find spot of coins struck at Cypriot mints is Cyprus.
A copy of the State Department Report to Congress is attached.