Spanish 'suspicious' over lack of treasure ship details

Published May 21, 2007

MADRID - The Spanish government is investigating if a crime was committed by a Tampa company that said it had found $500-million worth of coins in an Atlantic shipwreck, news reports said Sunday.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, revealed Friday that it had found hundreds of thousands of colonial-era silver and gold coins in the wreck, but didn't release details of the ship or the wreck site, citing security concerns.

The Culture Ministry said it found it "suspicious" that the company didn't release those details, the national news agency Efe reported.

Odyssey did say that the site is beyond the territorial waters or legal jurisdiction of any country.

Earlier this year, Odyssey won permission from the Spanish government to resume a suspended search for the wreck of the HMS Sussex, which sank in 1694 in a storm off Gibraltar.

The Spanish Culture Ministry said those permissions to the U.S treasure-hunting firm referred only to exploration and not to extraction, Efe said.

Odyssey had already begun exploration work for the British vessel but suspended it in 2005 after complaints from Spain.

Calls to the Spanish Culture Ministry on Sunday went unanswered.