U.S. firm rebuts Spanish charges over $500 mn treasure haul

By Emilio J. Lopez

U.S. treasure-hunting firm Odyssey Marine Exploration denied Spanish government claims that it "secretly" scoured the ocean floor to find a wreck containing a $500 million haul of colonial-era coins.

"Odyssey in this case followed all the appropriate archaeological and legal protocols," Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm told Efe, calling allegations to the contrary false and "inflammatory." 

Spain's Culture Ministry on Tuesday accused Odyssey of carrying out "this underwater excavation in secret after having received specific instructions that it was prohibited.

Madrid on Monday provided evidence to a U.S. federal court in Tampa, Florida, that the wreck in which Odyssey found hundreds of thousands of gold and silver coins is the Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes, sunk in October 1804 after a battle with British warships off the coast of Portugal in which more than 250 Spaniards died.


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