Finding buried treasure is just a fantasy for most people. However, if the Shinil Group’s claims are to be believed, the ocean could hold treasure worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The South Korean based company maintains that they have found the “Dmitri Donskoii”, a large Russian warship that was sunk in 1905, in the midst of the Russo-Japanese War. The ship was carrying an extraordinarily large amount of gold— rumored to be up to 200 tons!— when it sank. The Shinil Group has provided several pictures of the ship, and the images appear to correlate with the ship that sank 113 years ago.
This is not the first attempt to salvage the wreckage; a now defunct company, Donga Construction, attempted to start a salvaging operation a little over a decade ago, but never went through with it and eventually went bankrupt. Investors suffered heavy losses when the company was unable to deliver on its promises.
The South Korean financial regulatory service has given warnings to investors about both the Shinil Group and Jeil Steel, a publicly traded company that Shinil plans to buy a large amount of shares of. They warn that not only can one not know if Shinil will get permission to salvage the ship, but they might not even be able to, similarly to Donga Construction. Even if they salvage the ship, they might not have the rights to the treasure on it. In addition, even if the rumors are true and the ship does have 200 tons of gold aboard, Shinil’s valuation is outrageous. While they claim it would be worth 150 trillion won, or 132 billion USD, a market price valuation is about 8 billion USD.
To salvage the ship, the South Korean law would require Shinil to deposit 10% of its estimated value. Shinil claims it only is technically salvaging the ship itself, which would require a much smaller down payment. They plan to put a down payment worth as little as 144,000 USD. However, the government could decide they have to put down billions of dollars to salvage the wreck, making it much more unrealistic.
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