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Military buff finds £2million worth of gold bullion hidden inside his £30,000 Iraqi tank

DailyMail  |  Mail Online Reporter

A military buff who bought a tank on eBay for £30,000 could not believe his eyes when he found £2million in gold bars hidden inside.

Nick Mead (pictured left) and mechanic Todd Chamberlain with the tank. They found the gold inside the diesel tank, which they had just removed

The five gold bars, hidden in the diesel tank, are believed to have been looted by Iraqi soldiers during the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Nick Mead, 55, runs Tanks-a-Lot on a site in Helmdon, Northamptonshire and was restoring the Chinese-made T54 tank to add to the collection of 150 military vehicles.

The vehicle was restored by previous owner Joe Hewes, 23, who replaced its tracks and fixed its engine without ever discovering the valuable booty inside.

Mr Mead had traded an Army lorry and an Abbot self-propelled gun for the tank.

He had found machine gun ammunition while stripping it down and feared guns might have been stored inside the fuel tank.

Mr Mead and his mechanic Todd Chamberlain were filming the operation because they feared they might find weapons and wanted to be able to prove where it came from in case any awkward questions were asked.

But instead they pulled out the bars, which weighed five kilos each.

Mr Chamberlain told The Sun: ‘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.’

He added that a quick calculation estimated the worth of the gold at £2million.

Mr Mead said: ‘We know it is definitely an Iraqi tank and our theory is the gold is from Kuwait but we don’t know.

‘When we found it, we were all laughing and joking and deciding what we were going to spend the money on.

‘My sister wanted a Land Rover and I would buy a Rolls Royce Phantom and chop the back off to make a pick-up truck.’

The exact history of Mr Hewes’ tank is unknown but an inspection revealed it is a Chinese copy of the Russian T-54 design and manufactured under the designation Type 69.

It was built in the early 1980s and has just 1507 miles on the clock.

The vehicle was first bought by the self-taught mechanic, who has been restoring military vehicles for seven years.

He purchased the vehicle without a working engine and tracks but managed to get the tank running again.

‘I saw it advertised and I had this idea of doing a ‘From Russia With Love’ experience where people would come and drive three Russian tanks.

‘I always keep an eye on military vehicles on EBay, I check it once every three days. I often sell tanks on EBay and I buy from there too.

‘It is unusual to get one of these now, they range from around £10k to £60k. I did well buying it for £30k.’

Meanwhile two officers from Northamptonshire Police took the bars away for investigation and handed him a receipt which is now being kept in a safety deposit box in London.

It is thought inquiries will be made in Kuwait to see if the gold can be matched to any bullion which was stolen during Iraq’s invasion in August 1990.

‘It’s all very much up in the air at the moment,’ Mr Mead said. ‘It’s very early days and I’m not sure what will happen yet.’

He added that he was unsure if he would receive a ‘finders’ percentage.

But Mr Mead does not seem bothered that £2million might have just slipped through his fingers.

He said: ‘The chances of us keeping it are very slim.

‘I’ve had quite a few strange phone calls.

‘I got a call from one person claiming to be a colonel in the British Army saying it was his.

‘It’s really good fun to have found it. It certainly is interesting.’

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said they could not comment ‘for operational reasons’.

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