A pair of British tank collectors and military enthusiasts made a surprising discovery in a former Iraqi Army tank – five gold bars worth £2 million.
Nick Mead and mechanic Todd Chemberlain like to collect tanks and restore them for a variety of purposes. They have been in the business for a long time, restoring and renting military equipment to other military enthusiasts, film crews, historical festivals and reenactment events. Nick recently purchased a Chinese Type 69 tank that was once used by the Iraqi Army on eBay for £30,000 in order to restore it and make it a part of his collection.
The Type 69 main battle tank was built by China during the Cold war and was basically a downgraded copy of legendary Soviet T-55, which is still used today by many armies of the world. It is equipped with a powerful 125 mm main gun, a coaxial 12.7 mm machine gun and a PKT machine gun on the turret roof. It was used in many conflicts throughout and after the Cold war.
The one Nick obtained once belonged to Iraqi Army. It was in a relatively good condition, but it needed some restoration work before it could be deemed safe for operation.
Todd started restoring it and during the process, opened the fuel compartment to clean it. He noticed there is something inside. At first, he thought it was a pile of small arms, which is not uncommon to find in old retired tanks, especially those who have changed owners more than once. Todd and Nick decided to film the entire process in order to keep things transparent and provide evidence in case they find any unregistered weapons.
They expected machine guns and even explosives. But they were shocked when they pulled out – gold bars! Five of them, 6 kilograms each, worth about $2 million. They believe the gold bars were stolen by Iraqi soldiers during the invasion of Kuwait.
However, Nick and Todd were unsure what to do with them. After some consideration, they decided to inform the police. “We didn’t know what to do. You can’t exactly take five gold bullion bars down to Cash Converters without questions being asked, so we called the police”, Nick explains. All of the gold bars were handed over to authorities, who will try to track them down and see who they belonged to.
This is not t he first time Nick and Todd made a weird discovery in one of their vehicles. During their 20 years in the collector business, they have found all kinds of “exotic” items hidden in fuel compartments and engines. “Machine guns, ammunition, explosives, vehicle parts, ID’s, drugs… you name it”, Nick explains.
It is unknown what will happen to the gold bars, and will Nick and Todd get their share for finding them. But nevertheless, Nick says he is happy to have become an owner of such an iconic machine and that he sure hopes he will get a reward or even get to to keep the gold. “I like to keep things clean and by the book. I gave everything to the authorities. It is now on them to decide what to do with the treasure. If they rule in my favor and decide to give everything back, that would be great. But if they decide to confiscate them, or even return to their original owners, I will understand”.