Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Judge tells Spain, treasure hunters to reach accord on evidence

March 05, 2008

Miami - A federal judge said Wednesday that he would give Odyssey Marine Exploration and the Spanish government until the end of the week to settle their differences over the documentation the Florida treasure-hunting firm provided on the $500 million in gold and silver coins the company recovered last May.

"I think our position was well-understood by the court," James Goold, the attorney representing Madrid, told Efe.

He said that Judge Mark A. Pizzo "did not issue any ruling," but instead warned the parties in the hearing held Wednesday in Tampa that if they do not resolve their differences by Friday he will be obligated to intervene.

Goold said that Tampa-based Odyssey had not "supplied all the information that the court ordered" about the items salvaged from a colonial-era shipwreck code-named Black Swan.

Though the recovery took place in international waters, Madrid contends the company plundered Spanish cultural assets.

Goold said that Odyssey is hiding information and that its attitude with respect to the confidentiality clause "is not the appropriate one."

In his Jan. 25 ruling ordering the company to turn over information, Pizzo conceded to Odyssey's concerns about the possible compromise of trade secrets by instructing Spain to keep the data provided by the firm confidential.

The judge also said that Odyssey must allow Spanish authorities to examine the treasure haul.

The company announced last May 18 that it had made a huge find of silver and gold coins that, according to Spain's Culture Ministry, "is cargo removed from a Spanish-flagged" vessel.

Odyssey, however, has told the judge the objects found aboard the wreck indicate it may date from the 19th century, after the heyday of Imperial Spain.

The firm also insists its salvage operation complied with all legal requirements.


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