Sunken treasure discovery sends South Korean investors into a frenzy

A South Korean company claims to have found a sunken Russian warship with $132B worth of gold on board and the stock market is going nuts.


July 23, 2018

Speculation is swirling since a South Korean salvage company, Shinil Group, claimed that it found a 113-year-old Russian shipwreck, providing pictures of the wreckage to supports its announcement.

See, the sunken warship is rumored to be chock-full of gold: Approximately 200 tons of gold bars and coins worth $132B — and now South Korea’s stock market is in a tizzy.

Russia with a capital arrrrrrrrr

Shinil Group announced they identified the wreckage of the 6,200-ton Dmitrii Donskoi, a ship that went down during the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War off an eastern Korean island.

It’s unclear why, but after Shinil’s announcement, the stock price of an unrelated steel company, Jeil Steel, rose by 30% on South Korea’s KOSDAQ market.

The company’s stock plummeted back down 20% the following day, prompting South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service to closely monitor the shares of Jeil Steel’s trade activity. 

Why the concern?

They know from experience…

In 2000, Bloomberg reported (paywall) a different construction company made similar claims about the same ship, but when the company failed to bring it to the surface, it went bankrupt and caused huge losses for the investors on board.

Now, according to officials, Shinil may be in the same boat. 

The company is still unsure if the government will grant them permission to bring it to the surface, and even if they do, it’s not yet clear if they will be granted ownership of the assets.

What’s more, not everyone’s convinced it’s real

South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Services cautioned investors to do their research before making any impulse buys on any stock related to the shipwreck-bounty, due to some inconsistencies in the past.

Russian scholars all but debunked the valuation of the treasure back in 2000, explaining that Russians historically found it much safer to move that amount by train. 

According to regulators, “Anyone who spreads groundless rumors on the vessel will be charged of violations of criminal laws or fined.”

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