Three South Korean executives were jailed after authorities say they tricked investors into believing there was a sunken ship holding billions of dollars in gold, reports say.
Last year, executives at South Korean company Shinil Group claimed they found a Russian ship filled with treasure, CNN reports. Weeks later, police investigated allegations that Shinil Group made up the discovery to boost shares of a separate steel company that executives had invested in ahead of the announcement, CNN said.
According to Yonhap News Agency, investigators said the executives were able to attract more than $7 million from investors who were excited about potentially extracting the ship’s treasure.
The former vice chairman of the group, who was identified by his surname, Kim, was sentenced to five years in prison, Yonhap reports. The former head of the group was sentenced to two years in jail, while another accomplice received four years, the report said.
“Their responsibility for the crime is very heavy, given the method and scale, as it’s a case where they swindled many unspecified people and took huge gains,” said Choi Yeon-mi, the judge who presided over the case in Seoul Southern District Court, Yonhap reported.
The Russian ship, called the Dmitrii Donskoi, sank in 1905 and had long been rumored to carry gold for Russia’s Pacific Fleet, the BBC reports.
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