Hobby Lobby
A Hobby Lobby store is pictured on June 30, 2014, in Plantation, Florida. Getty Images

The United States filed a civil complaint against popular retail chain Hobby Lobby for selling stolen artifacts from Iraq that will require the corporation to pay $3 million to settle the dispute and return all artifacts. The artifacts were allegedly illegally brought into the US from Iraq through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, according to a press release published by the United States Department of Justice.

Hobby Lobby is best known for selling arts and crafts supplies.

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Hobby Lobby began acquiring a large amount of historically significant manuscripts, antiquities and other cultural artifacts around 2009. Steve Green, the company's president, traveled with a consultant in July 2010 to UAE to evaluate a plethora of antiques and cuneiform tablets. Cuneiform refers to a historic system of writing displayed on clay tablets, which was commonly used in Mesopotamia.

The company was reportedly warned by an expert on cultural artifacts in 2010 about its practice, with the expert claiming that "acquisition of cultural property...carries a risk that such objects may have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq." The expert also asked the company to review the country of origin for preexisting products sold in the stores.

However, Hobby Lobby ignored initial warnings and purchased over 5,500 artifacts for $1.6 million. Artifacts purchased by the company included cuneiform tablets, cuneiform bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals.

Bridget M. Rohde, a US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, recognized the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their efforts in alerting the problem to the proper authorities.

"American collectors and importers must ensure compliance with laws and regulations that require truthful declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so that Customs officers are able to scrutinize cultural property crossing our borders and prevent the inappropriate entry of such property," Rhode said in a statement. "If they do not, and shippers use false declarations to try to clandestinely enter property into the United States, this Office and our law enforcement partners will discover the deceit and seize the property."

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Hobby Looby recognized its role in the incident and took responsibility for the actions. Likewise, it plans to do what it takes to resolve the situation.

Angel M. Melendez, a Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, also spoke out on the lawsuit. Melendez claimed that is the HSI's "mission" to take incidents like this seriously.

"The protection of cultural heritage is a mission that HSI and its partner U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) take very seriously as we recognize that while some may put a price on these artifacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless," Melendez said in a statement.

To ensure that more incidents of this caliber don't occur in the future, Hobby Lobby intends to set in place internal policies and procedures that will oversee the importation and purchase process, give personnel proper training and submit quarterly reports to the government, among other procedures.

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