United States Returns Artifacts Stolen by Contractors During Iraq Reconstruction

Posted on September 14, 2012

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A 2006 investigation by the International Contract Corruption Task Force led to the seizure of priceless artifacts stolen by US Department of Defense contractors during the Iraq reconstruction efforts. In early July, the FBI finally returned the objects to Iraq.

The objects were between 2,500 and 4,000 years old, and included pottery dishes, vases, small statues, terracotta relief plaques, and an oil lamp. Department of Defense contractors initially took the artifacts (illegally) in 2004. According to investigators, the objects were given away as gifts, used for bribery, or sold to smugglers. Two of the contractors involved in the scandal are now in prison for their roles.

The International Contract Corruption Task Force is aimed at curbing fraud and corruption associated with US reconstruction efforts overseas. At the Washington, D.C. ceremony where the items were returned, special agent Ron Hosko stated that “working aboard does not entitle anyone to remove historic artifacts and treat them as mementos for illegal sale.”

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Posted in: Archaeology Law, Iraq