Binh Thuan Province has officially ordered a 101-year-old man to end his search for 4,000 tons of gold he believes was buried deep into a mountain by Japanese invaders 70 years ago.
Under a document released on March 10, Tran Van Tiep from Ho Chi Minh City is required to end his search at the Tau Mountain in the province’s Tuy Phong District.
He also needs to refill excavated sites.
The provincial government licensed the search in 1993 and renewed the license four times, with the last one from January-December, 2014.
Last year, Tiep and his employees used 1,890 kilograms of explosives and 372 drills in their search, which yielded nothing of value.
Tiep claims he acquired information in 1957 about the gold buried by Tomoyuki Yamashita, a famous general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
He says the hidden trove contains over 4,000 tons of gold stolen by Japanese forces from pagodas, banks and museums throughout Asia.
The man also claimed many materials showed that, before surrendering to the Allied forces in September 1945, Yamashita sent a fleet of 84 warships loaded with the gold to Ca Na Bay, between Binh Thuan and neighboring Ninh Thuan Province.
Tran Van Tiep (R) at the site of Tau Mountain in June 2014. Photo: Que Ha
Tran Phuong Hong, the youngest among his 11 children, said most of his siblings and their families lead a comfortable life.
One of Tiep's sons, Tran Phuong Binh, is the CEO of the HCMC-based DongA Bank and his wife, Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, is general director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ).
Hong said that several days ago, Tiep urged him to help apply for another license renewal but he was busy.
“I am afraid that he would be shocked when learning about the decision on newspaper and insisting on asking his children to take him to Binh Thuan again,” he said.
“My father has been weak recently but he is always interested in finding the treasure.”