Sunken Treasure Sparks Legal Tussle

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By: Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, DE (REUTERS).- It was an eye-popping investment pitch no one else could match — in return for $2 million, Manhattan accountant Neil Ash was offering investors a stake in the one of the biggest sunken treasures ever, an underwater site teeming with emeralds. The hitch: When Ash took backers to a Citibank vault to inspect gems that had quietly been recovered from the sea, they were gone. That set in motion a complicated and colorful legal scramble to lay claim to a trove of emeralds worth up to $500 million, according to court documents. It’s a story marked by accusations of double-dealing, corporate mutiny and deceit. The cast includes an investor who once oversaw Citigroup’s hedge fund business, a Democratic Party insider who has hosted the Obama family at his Hawaii getaway and an unlikely amateur treasure hunter. The main legal dispute has played out quietly in Delaware’s Chancery Court, where Jay Miscovich, a retired doctor who apparently found the