Proposed “Hunter Biden Rule” to Prevent Money Laundering in the Art World

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Art galleries and museums should be subject to the same money laundering prevention rules as banks when buying and selling works of art, with additional control over sales by family members of elected officials like Hunter Biden, declares a group of good government.

A draft federal regulation – dubbed the “Hunter Biden Rule” – was submitted this week by the Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Center to the Treasury Department’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, at a Manhattan art gallery by President Biden’s son.

Earlier this month, the White House assured critics it had a foolproof plan to prevent influence peddling: to demand SoHo gallery owner Georges Berges to keep the identities of buyers a secret from the White House. . Critics have said this plan is fatally flawed, as the names of the buyers are sure to leak publicly.

At the same time, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has stepped up warnings that art galleries and museums need to be more vigilant. The agency called for proposals to help them crack down on shady art deals, which are increasingly used by terrorists and criminal enterprises to hide assets and launder billions, the agency said.

Hunter Biden’s paintings sell for between $ 75,000 and $ 500,000 in an art gallery in Manhattan.

Last year, a Senate subcommittee on the art industry concluded that “the art industry is considered the largest unregulated legal industry in the United States.” The report, titled “The Art Industry and US Policies That Undermine Sanctions,” noted that unlike financial institutions, the buying and selling of high-priced artwork is not subject to same mandatory “step-by-step procedures” to verify the identity of a buyer and prevent money laundering.

Currently, the sale of artwork is only subject to scrutiny if a financial institution reports an issue with a transaction over $ 10,000, art dealers told The Post.

The subcommittee’s report, released in July 2020, noted that China and North Korea were laundering money through the sale of art and antiques. In another case, the subcommittee cited a Lebanon-based diamond dealer and art broker who laundered money by selling works by Picasso and Warhol in order to help finance Hezbollah terrorism. The Office of Foreign Assets Control, which regulates US sanctions, alleged that Nazem Said Ahmed hid his personal wealth in high-end art in order to evade US sanctions.

Congressman Ken Buck questions Attorney General Merrick Garland, showing a painting of Hunter Biden that sold for $ 500,000.  during a House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) Asked Attorney General Merrick Garland about a painting by Hunter Biden that sold for $ 500,000.

The NLPC proposal calls on authorities to treat galleries like financial institutions, subject to regulation under the Bank Secrecy Act, which would require them to help US government agencies “to detect and prevent money laundering.” money.in the purchase and sale of works of art. They also want staff at galleries and museums to receive training in detecting money laundering.

“Our best and brightest in the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption have told us loud and clear that the high-end art world in which Hunter Biden plays is now the front line of their business. battle, ”said Tom Anderson, director of NLPC. government integrity project. “Is the White House listening?”

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