But Nicola Sharp, of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli, says it is imperative that they comply with the regulations.
Anti-money-laundering rules in the UK and European Union mean that art and antiques dealers now have to record the beneficiaries of their sales for the first time. Similar legislation is likely to come into effect in the United States next year.
Some working in art and antiquities say they are being used as bait to help the authorities identify criminals, and they are unhappy about having to carry out checks on clients. They argue that the loss of anonymity may deter many potential buyers and harm the markets.
There is also the belief among some working in the sector that criminals would always prefer anonymous online purchases anyway, rather than dealing with art experts. Yet as the new regulations are now in place – or, as in the US, on their way – the art and antiquities world will have to adapt.
In the UK, the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019, which came into force on 10 January 2020, updated the anti-money laundering regime to incorporate international standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and transpose the European Union’s 5th Money Laundering Directive.
Those classed as an “art market participant” must have registered with HM Revenue and Customs by 10 January 2021 and carried out a risk assessment regarding their exposure to money laundering. They are obliged to carry out due diligence checks on customers before concluding a transaction. Art market participants must also appoint a nominated officer to report suspicious transactions to the authorities and introduce a prescribed range of policies, controls and procedures
While this may be viewed as an unwelcome development by many who work in art and antiques, they have to recognise just how important it is that they meet each and every requirement placed upon them – and, if necessary, seek appropriate advice on how to do so.