Posted by staff Reporter
Police in Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara seized more than 70 pieces of what’s believed to be gold bars on board MV Liberty on arrival from Ontong Java in the Malaita Outer Islands on Friday.
The Solomon Star was told the vessel was dispatched to Ontong Java earlier to bring Dr Reginal Aipia, who was under a court warrant for a separate criminal matter.
Dr Aipia, a medical doctor charged for the illegal harvesting of bech-de-mer, was on Ontong Java over the past weeks with his boys, reportedly diving and looking for underwater treasures on sunken ships.
Central Police confirmed confiscating the metals, believed to be gold bars and are now kept at the Central Bank of Solomon Islands.
But police declined to provide details.
Dr Reginald and his boys were also taken in for questioning but released later.
A passenger travelling on board the MV Liberty, Welshman Mulelua, confirmed more than seventy pieces were seized by the police.
“I am not sure whether they are pure gold or other minerals,” Mulelua told the Solomon Star.
He said there was nothing suspicious while they travelled over to Honiara until when the vessel arrived and police came to intervene.
“Officers who came to the ship said they were acting on information they received,” Mulelua said.
He said they were told the metals will be tested by mineral experts to identify their contents.
Mulelua told the Solomon Star Dr Reginald and his boys went on diving expeditions for old ship wreckages, starting last year and found one by the end of the year.
“I did not accompany them on those diving trips; I only supplied them with fuel.
“But I was reliably informed by some of his boys what was actually going on,” he said.
Mulelua said when MV Liberty arrived at Ontong Java; Dr Reginald told him to travel with him and his boys to Honiara.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR