EU legislation and initiatives
Mar 27 2024 | CINOA

Submission for the 2024 review of the EU Supranational Risk Assessment 2022


The two previous SNRA reports on ‘high-value goods – artefacts and antiquities’ have already had a detrimental impact on all art market professionals. They have been the basis for the EU anti-money laundering regulation listing ‘persons trading or acting as intermediaries in the trade of works of art’ as obliged entities when carrying out transactions, or linked transactions, of €10,000 or more. Consequently traders, usually micro-businesses of 2-3 persons, must now carry out research and checks similar to those expected of the financial institutions that are processing the payments relating to the very same art market transactions.

A further consequence of the SNRA 2022 evaluation is that art trade professionals have become victims of de-banking. More cases are being reported to us of banks closing dealers’ bank accounts or refusing to open an account because the bank perceives the art and antiques profession as posing a regulatory risk to the bank. Dealers are told verbally that the refusal is due to their profession but are not being given the reason in writing, making it difficult to appeal against.

Given the influence of the SNRA reports, the 2024 edition will need to be seriously revised for two main reasons. The first is that new studies have dispelled earlier unfounded claims regarding illicit trade in the art market and secondly because the SNRA treats the sector as homogenous instead of a series of unconnected niche businesses with different business patterns and associated risks. The acts and risks of buying and selling art, antiques or antiquities cannot be evaluated by a blanket assessment that treats all businesses that handle art, modern or old, and old objects as though they all present the same level of risk. To be an effective basis for policy makers and others to determine actions, the SNRA 2024 must identify and evaluate specific susceptible areas of risk and vulnerability both within the art market and outside the art market and then report on the risks presented by those specific areas.

The SNRA appears to regard the trafficking of looted artefacts as the principal concern in respect of money laundering risk.  However, at present the risk assessment has failed to take account of the fact that the looting of objects by definition relates to their removal from conflict zones and that the vast majority of artefacts handled by the market do not fall into the categories of object found in the main current conflict zones.

As the key stakeholder directly impacted by the SNRA evaluations on the draft SNRA’s section on ‘High value goods-artefacts and antiquities’,we strongly urge the following actions:

  1. Engage with the EU Expert Group “Dialogue with the Art Trade” and trade bodies such as CINOA to carry out a thorough reassessment of the risks of ML and TF (and now PF) in the context of the art market and check findings before finalizing the report, thus ensuring that a more meaningful and realistic assessment of risk can be produced.
  • Review carefully and refer to the recent studies , such as those highlighted in our comments, to ensure more accurate data and be vigilant not to repeat unsupported assumptions or claims based on anecdotal information and suspicions regarding illicit trade of art.
  • Carry out or commission, an analytical study on the types of art related crimes taking place in the EU by category of works in order to have concrete facts on the frequency, scale, transaction sizes, patterns, and countries involved in art-related crimes which can be used as a foundation for the SNRA.

As study after study does not prove a link between the art market and ML/FT for the vast majority of art trade professionals, we recommend the Commission focuses on higher risk sales which occur outside the established art sector

  • Investigate businesses and transactions that use art as a commodity which are not part of the art sector such as free zones, art collateralized loan firms and NFTs as a crypto asset.
  • Evaluate the volume and types of works which are undeclared ad hoc transactions made by private persons through unvetted online platforms selling art, antiques and antiquities.