Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., the world leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, announced today that the Republic of Peru filed a motion in federal court in one of the company's pending admiralty cases. As anticipated after numerous statements in the media, Peru formally filed a Verified Conditional Claim in the Black Swan admiralty case, which was originally filed by Odyssey Marine Exploration. The case is currently pending before the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida.
"Odyssey's position is to encourage every appropriate claimant to present its potential claims in a case like this, so we welcome Peru's filing, even as the Company reserves its legal position. If the court does not find that the property was abandoned, we believe that the property in the Black Swan case would be handled under the traditional law of salvage," said Greg Stemm, Odyssey Chief Executive Officer.
The nature of a salvage award is that the award to the salvor is not dependent upon the number of claimants. Claimants other than the salvor must either enter into an agreement amongst themselves to split the owner's percentage of a find or submit their individual claims to the court for adjudication. For instance, in the case of the Central America, an award of 92% of the cargo was made to the salvor, and the remaining 8% was held in trust while various insurance companies were given the opportunity to present their respective claims.
"We believe that Peru's filing raises a significant and timely question relating to whether a former colonial power or the colonized indigenous peoples should receive the cultural and financial benefit of underwater cultural heritage derived from the previously colonized nations. Odyssey would be pleased to involve Peru in the study and archaeological investigation of any property that is found to have originated in Peru, without regard for whether Peru has any legal rights to the property. We would also be pleased to extend the same courtesy to any other sovereign government, indigenous people, relatives or descendants who might have a legitimate claim or interest in property discovered on any of Odyssey's shipwrecks," Mr. Stemm added.