Police raid Shinil to probe its claimed discovery of Russian shipwreck

Blanche Robertson
August 9, 2018

South Korean police have invaded the office of the company that says it found the shipwreck of a Russian pre-World War 1 battleship carrying $130 billion in gold bars an coins.

The white collar unit of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency sent 27 investigators to search the premises of Shinil Group in Yeoido, western Seoul, and seven other locations to confiscate evidence, the agency said.

Shinil claimed on July 15 that it has found Dmitrii Donskoi, a Russian Imperial Navy warship, lying on a seabed off Ulleungdo, a South Korean island located between the Korean peninsula and Japan. Shinil supported those statements, saying the ship held 150 trillion won ($130) in gold on board.

Another firm claiming to have discovered Donskoi ahead of Shinil filed a complaint seeking a criminal investigation against the company, which shut down after rumors about it spread.

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The company has since launched its own cryptocurrency token, selling investors on the promise of exchanging their tokens for treasure from the sunken warship.

Ever since, rumours have persisted that the ship was carrying 200 tonnes of gold for Russia's Pacific Fleet, to pay crew salaries and docking fees. A single unit of the "Shinil Gold Coin", the company noted, will be the same as 10,000 won and will be supported by the ship's gold.

Last week, police banned the travel of Shinil executives including CEO Choi Yong-seok for questioning to see if they were involved in an investment fraud.

South Korea's financial watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), is also investigating possible share price manipulation of Jeil Steel, a company in which the current and former heads of Shinil bought shares in earlier this month. Shinil later downgraded the amount to $8.9 billion after claiming to have discovered the treasure, but, while the company teased that it would share photos and videos of the loot, nothing concrete was presented. On Monday, Interpol accepted South Korean authorities' request to list Choi and another key suspect surnamed Rhu on its Red Notices, police said.

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