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As the Allied forces closed in, General Yamashita kicked the treasure concealment campaign into high gear.
Yamashita dug massive tunels in the mountains outside Manila, some to depths of hundreds of feet, leading to the final ‘storage chambers’.
Yamashita also blasted caves in coral reefs, and sank entire shiploads of valuables in the sea around the islands.
But in the end all this hard work was for nothing – the Americans invaded the Philippines in October 1944.
Emperor Hirohito appointed his brother, Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, to head a secret organization called Kin no yuri (“Golden Lily”), to organize the looting.
And if that were’t enough, most if not all of the tunnels were booby-trapped with 1,000 and 2,000 lb bombs and poisonous gas.Many of those who knew the locations of the loot were killed during that final battle, or were later tried by the Allies for war crimes and executed.General Tomoyuki Yamashita himself was executed for war crimes on February 23, 1946 taking the secret of his treasure to the grave.The worth of all this booty is estimated to be as much as billion at 1940 rates – the equivalent of over 0 billion today.According to various post-war estimates, the gold bullion alone totals 4,000 to 6,000 tons!
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It is often said that behind every great fortune lies a great crime.