Home Hedge Funds Hedge Fund Tycoon Loses Ruling Over $40 Million WWII Shipwreck Treasure

Hedge Fund Tycoon Loses Ruling Over $40 Million WWII Shipwreck Treasure


(Bloomberg) — One of Britain’s top hedge fund managers lost a legal fight over the salvage of $40 million of silver from the wreck of a ship sunk by a Japanese submarine in World War II.

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The UK’s Supreme Court on Wednesday declared that the South African government could assert state immunity in a suit brought by a company controlled by hedge fund chief Paul Marshall.

At stake was a cargo of 2,364 bars of silver, once destined for the South African Mint, that lay hidden two and a half kilometers below the surface of the Indian Ocean for decades until it was found and lifted by Marshall’s Argentum Exploration Ltd.

The firm had argued it was owed a substantial salvage figure and said it wanted a court to “fix an award,” but the judges said they were informed that the two sides had since agreed to a settlement.

The treasure haul was aboard the SS Tilawa, which was sailing from Mumbai on its way to Durban in 1942 when it was struck by two torpedoes and sunk with the loss of 281 passengers and crew. The sinking has been dubbed “India’s Titanic” for the scale of the tragedy.

Marshall has been pursuing the riches of the deep alongside a younger executive at his hedge fund Anthony Clake, who may be the most successful shipwreck hunter of modern times, a Bloomberg Businessweek investigation reported in November. Clake has taken advantage of underwater technology to open up the ocean floor to exploration in a way that has never happened before.

Deep-Sea Treasure Hunt Hooks London Hedge Fund Manager

Clake said he’d conducted about 30 wreck salvages in all, sometimes as the main investor, sometimes as a minority investor and often with his companies working on behalf of a client.

Among them is the SS Tilawa. The vessel was first discovered at the bottom of the Indian Ocean in 2014, before being salvaged in a secret expedition three years later. The silver was brought to the British port of Southampton before being locked up in a secure warehouse, where it has remained ever since.

The South African government had argued that that it not only still owns the silver, but insisted that it shouldn’t have to submit to the lawsuit at all.

The Supreme Court judges agreed, saying that the silver was a non-commercial cargo and the government was entitled to immunity.

The ruling overturned two prior court decisions, with a judge previously saying that the government had probably “forgotten” about the bullion. UK Companies House filings record that Marshall controls Argentum.

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