Brisbane District Court

Treasure hunters face jail

From Perth Now

Two men are facing possible jail terms over an unregistered scheme to fund hunts for shipwrecked treasure, which cost Australian investors more than $600,000.

Christopher Paul Woolgrove, 44, and James Lawrence Phillips, 38, pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court earlier this year to one count each of operating an unregistered investment scheme.

At a sentencing hearing today the same court was told the pair established a scheme entitled the Hatcher Unit Trust (HUT) to raise more than $US2 million ($A2.1 million) to help fund a series of operations to find shipwrecks across the globe and salvage them.

In an information memoranda distributed to would be investors in 2001 and 2002, the HUT makes a series of baseless claims, including that "15 per cent of all gold found by man over the past 6,000 years is lying at the bottom of the ocean."

"It also claimed it has been calculated that if all the lost treasure and items of value could be recovered from the ocean and its wealth evenly distributed, every man, woman and child on earth could live comfortably for the rest of their lives."