Choi Yong-seok, chief executive of Shinil Group, attends a press conference held at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Jongno, central Seoul, on July 26, where the company claimed it has discovered a sunken Russian warship with gold bars and coins. [Photo by Kim Jae-hoon]
Police in Seoul raided offices of Shinil Group on Tuesday as part of a probe launched into the South Korean company claiming to have discovered a long-lost sunken Russian warship with 150 trillion won ($133.5 billion) worth of gold bars and coins.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Tuesday sent 27 investigators to raid the headquarters of Shinil Group PTE Ltd. in Yeouido, western Seoul, and seven other offices including that of Shinil Group’s Donskoi International Exchange that has sold virtual currency to raise funds from investors. Shinil Group hinted it will salvage what it claimed the sunken ship and show photos of the gold on board but no further announcement was made related to it. Rather, the company’s claim that it has found Dmitri Donskoi, a Russian warship that sunk during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 beneath the water off Ulleung Island, immediately led the stock price of Jeil Steel Mfg to soar following the announcement that the largest shareholder of the steel products maker sold shares to the head of Shinil Group. It is also suspected of having issued virtual currency Shinil Gold Coin to collect funds for the ship recovery.
Shinil Group attracted investors by claiming that up to 150 trillion won worth of gold bars and coins are inside the sunken vessel, leading to unusual movements in the country’s stock market involving the company.
The police launched a probe after another business entity claimed that it found the Donskoi warship before Shinil Group and sued Shinil Group management amid suspicions over investment fraud. The police said it will focus on gathering victims from what it could be a scam and plans to summon related officials after securing evidence from the raid.
Late last month, the Financial Supervisory Service also launched a separate probe on the company for possible illicit trading or stock price manipulation.
By Kim Hee-rae and Lee Eun-joo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]