Govt halts excavation at reported treasure site
The Ministry of Finance has ordered a halt to excavation at the Fortune Hill site on San Salvador where there is reported to be pirate treasure, according to the island’s administrator.
Terrece Bootle-Bethel said a directive was handed down to her office yesterday to have the reported owner of the land, Dorothy Black-Beal, and her crew of excavators, stop digging for the treasure.
According to Bootle-Bethel, the activities on the site have been stopped to investigate whether Black-Beal’s group has the right permits to excavate for treasure.
The Nassau Guardianunderstands that Black-Beal and her group could be in Nassau today to try to clear up the matter and meet with Dennis Bethel, who claims he and his family own the property where the treasure is said to be buried.
A third family is also claiming ownership of the Fortune Hill property and is reportedly prepared to go to court to fight for it and whatever is on it.
San Salvador residents confirmed Tuesday night that no treasure had been found.
Zhivargo Laing, who is Minister of State for Finance, should be notified if any treasure is found, according to law. Yesterday morning he insisted that nothing had been found.
Laing said recently that in order for Black-Beal to begin exploration for the purported treasure, the director of the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation(AMMC)would have to give permission.
However, there currently is no AMMC director. That department falls under the portfolio of Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard.
Maynard said Monday that, to his knowledge, the AMMC had not issued anything to Black-Beal. However, he added, the Office of the Prime Minister(OPM)gave her and her group permission to perform scans of the ground in the area with surveillance equipment.
Calls to Permanent Secretary at OPM David Davis over three days were not returned.
This apparent disconnect between departments over permits could be the reason the Black-Beal group was ordered to halt its activities, though Bootle-Bethel insisted that the AMMC appointed a representative in San Salvador to oversee the excavation efforts in the government’s interest.
“We’re going to follow any directive we’re given by the Ministry of Finance,”she said.