Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

A Shipwreck, a Sunken Treasure, and a Possible Crypto Scam

A Shipwreck, a Sunken Treasure, and a Possible Crypto Scam

Doubts have been cast over a South Korean company's claim to have discovered a sunken Russian warship that was carrying $130 billion in gold "treasure" off the Korean coast.

A South Korean salvage team has discovered the wreck of a Russian warship that was sunk in a naval battle 113 years ago and is believed to still contain a trove of gold bullion and coins worth 150 trillion won, or £100 billion.

It is thought that the battle ship, called Dmitrii Donskoi, sank during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, going down with 5,500 boxes of gold bars and coins to prevent the Japanese from seizing it.

Wreck of Russian warship carrying $130bn in gold found off South Korea
Russian first-class armored cruiser Donskoii

"We found the body of the Dmitrii Donskoi 434 meters deep in seas 1.3 kilometres off Ulleung Island at around 9:50 a.m., Sunday", the Shinil group said.

The salvage company is planning to launch a cryptocurrency to raise funds to bring the wreck to the surface, the Korea Herald reports.

Many have said the gold would be worth billions if found today but academics are doubtful a warship would have been used to carry such precious cargo.

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"Investors need to be cautious as it's possible they could suffer massive losses if they bank on rumors without concrete facts regarding the recovery of a treasure ship", the regulator said in a statement.

Meanwhile it emerged that two other organisations "discovered" the same wreck years before, including one which went bankrupt after being accused of spreading false rumours to bump up its stock price. All the masts are broken on the sunken ship, Shinil Group said. The government-run Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) told South Korean media that it had successfully located the wreckage in 2003.

The price of Jeil Steel shares soared a whopping 30 percent on Tuesday because Ryu Sang-mi, head of the Shinil Group, is the second largest shareholder of the steel company. The address listed for both domain names belongs neither to Shinil Group or the websites' host, but rather that of a shopping mall in Seoul, Korea.

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Mr Lim Dong Hoon, one of the company's three South Korean directors, said when reached on his mobile phone that he had no information on the shipwreck or the company's activities, and declined to comment further.

"The body of the ship was severely damaged by shelling, with its stern nearly broken, and yet the ship's deck and sides are well-preserved", the company said. This island is mostly uninhabited, but it is a significant tourist spot for South Korea. Kolesnichenko said that the vessel is a Russian war grave, since it contains the remains of Russian sailors, and any major work at the site would require Moscow's consent.

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