Art galleries and museums should be subject to the same rules for preventing money laundering as banks when buying and selling art, with extra control over the sale of family members to elected officials like Hunter Biden, says a good government group.
A proposed federal regulation — called the “Hunter Biden Rule” —was submitted this week by the Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Center to the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
The effort was the NLPC’s response to an impending sale of paintings, priced between $ 75,000 and $ 500,000, in an art gallery in Manhattan by President Biden’s son.
Earlier this month, the White House assured critics that it had a foolproof plan to prevent influence: demanding that SoHo gallery owner Georges Berges hide buyers’ identities from the White House. Critics have said this plan is fatally flawed because the buyer’s names are probably leaking in public.
At the same time, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network doubled its dreadful warnings that art galleries and museums need to be more vigilant. The agency issued a call for proposals to help them crack down on shady art deals, which are increasingly being used by terrorists and criminal companies to hide assets and launder billions, the agency said.
Last year, a Senate subcommittee on the art industry concluded that “the art industry is considered the largest, legally unregulated industry in the United States.” The report, entitled “The Art Industry and U.S. Policies Undermining Sanctions,” noted that buying and selling art at expensive prices is not subject to the same mandate “detailed procedures” to verify a buyer’s identity and prevent money laundering.
Right now, the sale of art only comes under control if a financial institution marks a concern with a transaction of over $ 10,000, art dealers told The Post.
The subcommittee’s report, released in July 2020, noted that China and North Korea laundered money through the sale of art and antiques. In another case, the subcommittee quoted a Lebanese diamond dealer and art broker who laundered cash through the sale of Picasso and Warhol works to help fund Hezbollah terrorism. The Office of Foreign Assets Control, which regulates U.S. sanctions, claimed Nazem Said Ahmed hid his personal wealth in advanced art to avoid U.S. sanctions.
The NLPC proposal calls on authorities to treat galleries as financial institutions subject to rules under the Banking Secrecy Act, which will require them to help US government agencies “detect and prevent money laundering”” in buying and selling art. They also want gallery and museum staff to undergo training in how to detect money laundering.
“Our best and clearest in the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption have loudly and clearly told us that the advanced art world Hunter Biden plays in is now the front line of their fight,” said Tom Anderson, director of the NLPC government’s integrity project. “Is the White House listening?”