License extended for $200-billion treasure hunt in Vietnam

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Binh Thuan authorities have extended license for a 97-year-old man to explore a local mountain for treasure believed to be worth more than US$200 billion.

The current license of Tran Van Tiep of Ho Chi Minh City to explore the Tau Mountain in the south-central province's Tuy Phong District, which will expired on July 1 will be extended to October 10.

Tiep was also allowed to use 20 drilling machines instead of the current five, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

His license to hunt the treasure was first granted in 1994 before it was revoked in February, 2011 and resumed on October 10 the same year.

When it was resumed last October, the treasure hunter's representative told Thanh Nien that they had to submit VND500 million ($24,307) to the State Treasury as a deposit for their exploration and handling environmental consequences.

According to Tiep, in 1957, he acquired information about the treasure, which was allegedly buried by Tomoyuki Yamashita, a famous general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, on Tau Mountain in Phuoc The Commune, Tuy Phong District. 

He said the treasure, including over 4,000 tons of gold, was the war loot stolen by Japanese forces at pagodas, banks and museums in countries they were then controlling.

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The man also claimed many materials showed that before surrendering to the Allied forces in September 1945, Yamashita sent a fleet with 84 warships carrying gold to Ca Na Bay, located between Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan provinces.

Tran Phuong Hong, his youngest child among 11 children, said most of Tiep's children and grandchildren lead a comfortable life.

One of his 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).

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