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‘Treasure ship’ claim raises eyebrows in South Korea

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A company claiming to have found the wreck of a Russian warship with $130 billion in gold “treasure” off the coast of South Korea has drawn scepticism from researchers and regulators in Seoul.

Shinil Group, which lists a Singapore address on its website, said on Tuesday it had discovered the wreck of the Dmitrii Donskoi, a Russian armored cruiser built in the 1880s and sunk in 1905 after battling Japanese warships.

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The company said the ship held 150 trillion won ($130 billion) in gold and it would provide evidence next week to support its claims.

Shinil Group representatives did not respond to requests for comment, but its news release said the company was the “only entity in the world” to have discovered the ship.

The release was accompanied by photos and video of a wreck, including a section that appeared to show the ship’s name. It said the search team included experts from Britain, Canada and South Korea.

The announcement was disputed by the government-run Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, which told South Korean media that it discovered the wreck in 2003.

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The institute did not respond to a request for comment, but its website showed photos dated from 2007 of what it said was the wreck, along with maps of its general location.

A South Korean construction company has also laid claim to being the first to discover the Russian warship, South Korean media said.

Some academics have cast doubt on past reports of a massive treasure on the ship. South Korean financial regulators also cautioned against investing in treasure hunting ventures.

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In a separate statement on its website, Shinil Group described its newly launched “Donskoi International” crypto currency exchange as linked to the find.

The company said it would “share profits” from the Russian wreck with the public by handing out its virtual currency to anyone who signed up to use the exchange. It promised additional coins to those who helped sign up others.

Shinil Group’s English website was registered in January, according to the Whois internet domain registry, and has many sections marked “under construction”.

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South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Services on Wednesday warned against “overheated” investment, citing past cases of treasure-hunting companies that saw their stock skyrocket after a discovery only to end up filing for bankruptcy.

“Investors need to be cautious as it’s possible they could suffer massive losses if they bank on rumors without concrete facts regarding the recovery of a treasure ship,” the regulator said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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Trump announces toughest sanctions ‘ever’ on Iran

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President Donald Trump on Friday announced new sanctions on Iran's central bank, calling the measures the toughest ever imposed on another country by the United States.

"We have just sanctioned the Iranian national bank," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

"These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country," he said.

The Trump administration has vowed a response after US officials blamed Iran for weekend blasts on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which caused a sharp hike in global crude prices.

The United States already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran including on its central bank, with anyone who deals with it subject to prosecution.

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Trump uncorks bizarre rant on ‘clean coal’ in Oval Office: ‘When you talk minerals, it’s about digging’

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President Donald Trump on Friday uncorked a strange and nonsensical rant about the virtues of so-called "clean coal" during an Oval Office conversation with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

When asked about the importance of Australia's mineral industry, the president praised the country for doing so much to extract resources in what he described in an environmentally friendly way.

"Coal, as an example, you're the leader of safety in coal digging and we've actually studied it," the president said. "We're doing a lot of coal. You have very little -- you have almost no -- used to have a thing, black lung disease, and in Australia you almost don't have it anymore, you've got all of the dust down."

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The View explodes in confusion after Meghan McCain makes Trump’s Ukraine debacle all about herself

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Meghan McCain managed to place herself at the center of a debate about a whistleblower complaint filed against President Donald Trump.

"The View" grappled with reports that Trump dangled U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for damaging information against Joe Biden, and co-host Abby Huntsman agreed that was an impeachable offense -- but expressed doubts about the accuracy.

"This is a blown-up story and we have no facts, there's no gray area," Huntsman said. "It's black and white, and that would give Trump all the more ammunition if this isn't even true to say, this is what the media does."

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