Shinil Group, a South Korean treasure-hunting company, recently made global headlines when they proclaimed an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) after discovering a sunken Russian battleship possessing large volumes of gold worth US$130 billion.
On July 16, company team members shared a video on YouTube indicating how they managed to discover the wreckage of the Dmitri Donskoi, a Russian cruiser submerged in 1905 after viewing combat of the Russo-Japanese War. This wreckage of gold was found near the island of Ulleungdo.
The scuttled ship is said to be carrying 5,500 boxes of raw gold bars and 200 tons of gold coins worth US$130 billion.
Initially, the company revealed that 1/2 of assumed gold will be sent back of Russia while 10 percent will be channeled to facilitate tourism on Ulleungdo.
However, Shinil Group revealed that they will use the treasure to enable an ICO launch. The ICO for 'Shinil Gold Coin' was planned to begin on July 30th and the real token was ready to be officially listed on various exchanges in the month of August or September.
Speculation now abounds that the whole event might be a sophisticated scam.
A variety of industry authorities, regulators and researchers within South Korea have reacted to Shinil Group's claim with a big punch of skepticism.
Shinil Group, however, stated that they were the "only entity in the world" to discover the ancient historical ship, though it was argued by many people. The Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology claims to have found the shipwreck far back in 2003, the featured pictures of 2007 of this purported wreck and location maps are even on their website.
Shinil Group went ahead to say that the discovery was of another shipwreck. In addition to that, the YouTube video that was posted by the company wasn't be watched as of press time because the person that uploaded it, closed the YouTube account. However, South Korea's Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said that Shinil Group didn't notify them about anything concerning the wreck or even applying for the salvage rights.
A lot of questions have circulated due to scattered information about any kind of website or social media for Shinil Group. In mid-July, Park Sung-jin, the company's spokesperson indicated that one site under Shinil Group's identity wasn't at all affiliated with the firm.
The KoreFooongAng Daily revealed that they confirmed the firm's alleged address in Singapore to have been used by a different consulting firm.
Meanwhile, the Seoul Gangseo District Police placed a travel ban on July 31 for Choi Yong-seok, CEO Shinil Group and various company members, as they wait to be summoned. Korea's Financial Supervisory Service is also putting a torch on the company.
According to Korea JoongAng Daily, a person identified as Yu Ji-beom posted detailed particulars related to the shipwreck on Instagram and a blog and was responsible for creating a virtual currency exchange known as the Donskoi International Exchange. The report elaborates in detail how Ji-beom was 'behind the investment scam' and is now in Vietnam hiding away from the investigation.