Two Japanese smugglers were busted on the Italian-Swiss border with a suitcase whose false bottom was stuffed with $134.5 billion in US treasury bonds, including two one billion dollar Kennedy bonds (a denomination used for national currency reserves). Either these guys are the world's dumbest, most ambitious counterfeiters, or they're the biggest currency smugglers ever caught.
It gets better: Italian law says that the penalty for currency smuggling is 40% of the seized cash, and that 40% (US$28 billion) will take a huge bite out of Italy's public debt.
If the certificates were real, for Italy it would be like hitting the jackpot. The fine alone would amount to US$ 38 billion, five times the estimated cost of rebuilding quake-devastated Abruzzi region. It would help Italy's eliminate its public deficit.
If the certificates are fakes the two Japanese nationals could get a very lengthy jail sentence for fraud.
As soon as the seizure was made the US Embassy in Rome was informed. Italian and US secret services were called in to assist the Italian financial police.
Some important international financial newspapers had already reported on the existence of 'funny money' circulating on parallel, i.e. unofficial, financial markets.
US government securities seized from Japanese nationals, not clear whether real or fake
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