Two Japanese guys got stopped at the Italian-Swiss border in Ponte Chiasso (which turns out to be a town I visited ages ago) Italy, and the authorities found a whopping $134.5 Billion worth of US bonds. In case you’re curious as to what that much money looks like, here’s a picture:
Apparently they are counterfeit.
What were they for?
So, these phony bonds could be central to a gargantuan scam perpetrated by big-league crooks equipped with sophisticated printing presses. If successful, such high-level scammers would make Bernie Madoff look like Warren Buffett.
Even scarier, counterfeit bonds cast shadows of doubt on legitimate ones. Thus, an evil group (terrorists? Japan’s Yakuza crime organization?) or a rogue nation (Iran? North Korea?) wishing to destabilize America’s wobbly economy even further could trigger at least mild tremors by making investors wonder which U.S. bonds are kosher and which are bogus.
Then there are the implications:
Treasury’s declaration that those briefcase bonds were artificial reassured those who feared that a legitimate nation (e.g. Japan or China) may have tried to unload a Matterhorn of dollars in Switzerland, perhaps to purchase gold and hedge against a coming inflationary tsunami. Many economists expect a massive wave of price hikes and dollar devaluations stemming from Washington’s 18-month-long bipartisan earthquake of bailouts, spending, and money printing.
Here’s an update on the story: Maybe the Japanese men weren’t Japanese, but they were relased.
Spotlight on Italian mafia after fake US Treasury bills seized
Officials in Tokyo were nonplussed. Takeshi Akamatsu, a Japanese foreign ministry press secretary, said Italian authorities had confirmed that two men carrying Japanese passports had been questioned in the bond case but Tokyo had not been informed of their names or whereabouts.
“We don’t know where they are now,” Akamatsu said.
And then there’s the Italian Mafia and the Venezuelan involvement on top of it:
Whether the men are really Japanese, as their passports declare, is unclear but Italian and US secret services working together soon concluded that the bills and accompanying bank documents were most probably counterfeit, the latest handiwork of the Italian mafia.
Italian officials, while pointing out that hauls of counterfeit money and treasury bills were not unusual, were stunned by the amount involved. Investigators are looking into the origin and destination of the fakes.
Italian prosecutors revealed last month that they had cracked a $1-billion bond scam run by the Sicilian mafia, with the alleged aid of corrupt officials in Venezuela’s central bank. Twenty people were arrested in four countries.
The fake bonds were to have been used as collateral to open credit lines with banks, Reuters news agency reported. The Venezuelan central bank denied the accusations.
Now, I have been posting for years that Chavez had pledged to undermine the dollar. As Deroy Murdock said, just finding billions of dollars’ worth of fakes is enough to send jitters through the markets.
In order to issue realistic enough counterfit bonds the Mafia would most likely go to a corrupt enough government that would have the facilities to print currency. The mafia wouldn’t even have to get high government officials, just a few key corrupt guys. The Italian authorities didn’t have to stretch too far to find that connection with Venezuela.
I wouldn’t be surprised if by now the “Japanese” men are somewhere in Hugo’s Bolivarian republic.
post edited to add omitted sentences