Doubts over South Korean Claim of Discovery of Sunken Russian ‘Treasure’ Ship

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In a statement released Tuesday, salvage company Shinil Group confirmed that the stern of the vessel, the Dmitry Donskoi, once part of the Russian Imperial Navy, had been discovered off South Korea's Ulleungdo Island.

A South Korea salvage team has reportedly uncovered an old Russian warship that is believed to hold 200 tons of gold worth more than $130 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.

The South Korean treasure-hunting company, Shinil Group, spent many years attempting to find the treasure ship and is now preparing for a joint operation with companies from China, Canada and Britain to retrieve the treasure.

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Shinil Group estimates the gold to be worth 150 trillion won ($176 billion) in today's value. The treasure and the money belonged to Russian Federation and was part of their war fund. Attempts were made in the year 2000 by the now defunct company, Donga Construction, to retrieve the treasure, but to no avail.

According to the BBC, some experts doubt the possibility that the ship carried gold, questioning why a warship would carry such valuable cargo. One of them, Dong-Ah Construction, was accused of spreading false rumors to bump up its stock prices and later went bankrupt.

However, their claim was disputed by the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) shortly after.

Shinil Group's team said part of the wreckage had the name "DONSKOII" carved into the ship in Cyrillic.

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The company who sponsored the discovery of the wreckage has however promised, to use a percentage of the money to fund the construction of a railway line linking Russian Federation and South Korea through North Korea.

There is scepticism about Shinil's claim and the Financial Supervisory Service is closely monitoring trade activity involving the shares of Jeil Steel. The second website - which Bitcoinist uncovered during the course of its own investigation - appears to be promoting an upcoming ICO for the aforementioned Shinil Gold Coin.

An official at the Pohang Regional Office of Oceans and Fisheries, which has authority on Shinil's case, said it hasn't formally discussed the company's claim because Shinil has yet to submit a request to seek a salvage right.

If the government based its calculation on the company's $132 billion claim, Shinil would have to deposit at least $13.2 billion - even though it is still unclear how much it would be allowed keep of any possible gold that may be found in the shipwreck.

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Shinil says that so far it has found the shipwreck but no gold, so it believes it must provide a deposit of $1 million.

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