The sunken shipwreck is real: the cruiser of the secular Russian imperial navy Dmitri Donskoi is sitting on the bottom off the coast of South Korea. But his cargo of gold bullion is not.
Now, the South Korean company behind the breathless announcement of having found a $ 190 billion treasure is under investigation for fraud.
The Shinil group produced photographic evidence that had found the wreck of the cruiser, which was sunk by his crew after the battle of Tsushima – a clash with the Russian navy was defeated by the Japanese.
Where things get cloudy is the legend that went down with about 200 tons of gold, in the form of coins and 5000 boxes of gold bars. Shinil claimed that a "treasure box" was seen inside the wreck from his remotely piloted vehicle. No gold, however, was recovered.
This presents the first problem: Shinil claimed that this would have cost $ 190 billion. But the declared amount of gold is worth about $ 10 billion.
However, the company issued a rescue claim on the wreck. While Russia is automatically entitled to half, Shinil said benevolently that he would give 10 percent of his cut to Korean infrastructure projects.
But the investigators believe that the devil is in the details.
CORRELATED: Doubts raised on the Russian request for "treasure ship"
Shinil also stated that it would invest another 10% in a new cryptocurrency system that would establish. Meanwhile, a Singapore-based affiliate was trying to sell cryptocurrency based on the potential value of the shipwreck.
The company said it would produce evidence of the gold load within a week of its announcement. It was a month ago.
He also brought back his estimated loot value several times. Now he says the treasure is probably worth more than a million dollars.
The video posted on YouTube of the wreck has been removed. Shinil closed its Web site.
The Shinil Gold Coin cryptocurrency project also vanished. His website has disappeared and no new mention of his imminent launch has been made.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police told the Yonhap agency that they broke into Shinil's offices and is now investigating the case as a potential fraud, perpetrated by a family with a history of similar scams.
CORRELATED: The shattering blow HMAS Sydney
Choi Yong-seek, former head of the Shinil Group, and his predecessor Rhu Sang-mi are both interviewed by the police.
Police believe Choi has played a key role in the business of the company as a partner of the Rhu brothers – Rhu Sang-mi and Rhu Seung-jin – at the head of the Singapore company.
Choi resigned as CEO as Dmitri Donskoi's story exploded around him.
Rhu Seung-jin, who fled to Vietnam after being implicated in another case of fraud in 2014, was added to a list of Interpol requests in relation to the Dmitri Donskoi case.