The company Odyssey Marine Exploration (OME), known in Spain for the looting of the frigate Mercedes, maintains a serious litigation with the Government of Mexico with unpredictable and possibly serious consequences for the future of cultural heritage. The denial of the necessary environmental permits for OME’s mining activities on the seabed off the Mexican coasts of Baja California has caused the treasure hunter to sue Mexico for an exorbitant amount of 3,540 million dollars. If by chance or lack of adequate response it receives that amount, OME would become one of the best positioned giants around the exploitation of the seabed. Despite being a treasure hunting company that deceived the Kingdom of Spain, which tried – and almost succeeded – to create a legal and political crisis in the Strait of Gibraltar, still have pending legal accounts in Spain, which have not been resolved because it was incomprehensibly “forgiven” de facto, after the legal victory in the US, by the Spanish authorities. Now it is not unlikely that that wounded structure will revive as a major threat to the Hispanic underwater cultural heritage.
The purpose of Odyssey was to create, off the coast of Mexico, the largest work of mining engineering in the world, in relation to the extraction of phosphates, and to be the main supplier of fertilizers in the huge agricultural markets of Mexico, the United States and Canada . In essence the Oceanic Project / Don Diego is a macroproject, for 50 years, of continuous dredging of 3029 km2 of the seabed, at 80 meters depth, on black earth rich in phosphates, highly polluting (including the presence of uranium or thorium), of enormous impact as demonstrated by the experience in other similar mining projects, and facing especially sensitive waters.
In this context, the Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) decided to reject the environmental permit for the project. From there, the Mexican government has shown an inexplicable lack of action in a lawsuit that can turn the Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) into an efficient lever to escape the environmental guarantees of the States.
However, a piece of information that could question the right of the North American company to be the holder of mining rights in Mexico or even compromise its own legal and financial situation in the United States was hidden by OME. This circumstance has been communicated to the North American lawyers of Mexico (Tereposky & DeRose LLP) and the responsible officials of that country, by means of a memorandum drawn up by the Spanish lawyer José María Lancho. To diagnose the company’s situation, it has had the help of the auditor Antonio Granero and the Mexican specialist in mining law Mario Mejía.
The supervisory body of the North American securities market and the Mexican public procurement regulation itself require that certain relevant, true and objective information be provided about the company that guarantees its solvency and its equity and legal reality in front of third parties and partners. North American companies that are listed on the stock exchange must issue periodic financial reports of a public nature, where they must report on the pending litigation of the company, when the judicial procedure is important (Article 103 of Regulation SK entitled “Legal procedures” and Item 303 that refers to the lawyer Lancho responsible for the criminal actions in Spain against the treasure hunter company for the looting of the Mercedes frigate). This legal framework obliged Odyssey, according to Lancho, to report that in the Criminal Investigation Court number 3 of La Línea de la Concepción there is a criminal procedure against OME and its directors, for serious damage to cultural heritage, theft and smuggling in a summary that bears the registration number of Preliminary Proceedings 855/2007, which has remained open until now and especially active during the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, when the treasure hunter was requesting their mining rights in Mexico.
Odyssey concealed in reports the existence of this serious procedure and he did not do it accidentally, as the aforementioned report reveals: He was in a financial crisis that would have forced him to go to a bankruptcy in Spain, with a chronic negative working capital that reached 25 million dollars in 2012, 23 million in 2011 and 16 million in 2010. It is obvious that if the If the company had made the situation public, it would not have been so easy to obtain financing to continue its activity. In 2019, the negative net worth amounted to 53,297,416 dollars and its share capital 221,027,057. (9,478,009 in shares). In 2018, negative net worth was $ 41,196,537. A company with the history of OME, with pending criminal accounts in Spain and a critical financial situation could obtain a silver bullet with the strange and implausible compensation from Mexico that is closing these days in an arbitration in Ottawa, Canada.