An American salvage company has been accused of avoiding a British claim for treasure it has recovered from a wreck off the Scilly Isles.

An American salvage company has been accused of avoiding a British claim for treasure recovered from a wreck off the Scilly Isles. The 500,000 gold and silver coins, reported to be worth over £250 million, were salvaged from a wreck thought to be that of a 17th century merchant ship.

But rather than being landed in the UK and declared to the Receiver of Wreck, the treasure was instead secretly landed in Gibraltar and airfreighted to Florida. Spain, meanwhile, suspects the wreck or its cargo could be Spanish, in which case Madrid could lay a claim to the treasure.

The salvage company said the haul came from an unidentified wreck code named ‘Black Swan’ which it discovered in international waters 40 miles off Land’s End. Shipwreck experts in St Mary’s on the Scilly Isles believe the wreck is that of the Merchant Royal, which sank 25 miles off Land’s End in 1641 with the loss of her 18-man crew including her captain, John Limbrey.