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6 Trillion in Counterfeit US Bonds

Apparently there were 6 trillion in counterfeit US bonds which were transported to Switzerland in 2007. It is interesting that the bonds came from Hong Kong…

There was something similar in 2009, with Japanese citizens involved.

With the dollar as precarious as it is, this sort of thing may be more effective than usual in damaging the dollar as reserve currency.

Both articles are excerpted and appended below:

Italy confiscates $6 trillion in fake US bonds

February 17, 2012 http://www.usnews.com/news/offbeat/articles/2012/02/17/italy-confiscates-6-trillion-in-fake-us-bonds

MILAN (AP) — Authorities in Switzerland have confiscated $6 trillion in counterfeit U.S. bonds at the request of Italian prosecutors, authorities said Friday.

In Italy, eight people were arrested across the country and placed under investigation for fraud and other crimes.

The bonds, carrying the false date of issue of 1934, had been transported in 2007 from Hong Kong to Zurich, where they were transferred to a Swiss trust, according to prosecutors in the southern Italian city of Potenza.

Authorities said that U.S. officials had confirmed the bonds were counterfeit.

Prosecutors said the fraud had not been completed, but that it appeared that the suspects intended to try to sell the fake bonds to a developing nation, directly or through an intermediary bank.

Recently, Carabinieri carrying out a routine search at a highway rest stop found a briefcase containing $20 billion in fake bonds.

And then this one from 2009:

Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge: William Pesek

Commentary by William Pesek – June 16, 2009 15:00 EDT
: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a62_boqkurbI

June 17 (Bloomberg) — It’s a plot better suited for a John Le Carre novel.

Two Japanese men are detained in Italy after allegedly attempting to take $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds over the border into Switzerland. Details are maddeningly sketchy, so naturally the global rumor mill is kicking into high gear.

Are these would-be smugglers agents of Kim Jong Il stashing North Korea’s cash in a Swiss vault? Bagmen for Nigerian Internet scammers? Was the money meant for terrorists looking to buy nuclear warheads? Is Japan dumping its dollars secretly? Are the bonds real or counterfeit?

The implications of the securities being legitimate would be bigger than investors may realize. At a minimum, it would suggest that the U.S. risks losing control over its monetary supply on a massive scale.

The trillions of dollars of debt the U.S. will issue in the next couple of years needs buyers. Attracting them will require making sure that existing ones aren’t losing faith in the U.S.’s ability to control the dollar.

The dollar is, for better or worse, the core of our world economy and it’s best to keep it stable. News that’s more fitting for international spy novels than the financial pages won’t help that effort. It is incumbent upon the U.S. Treasury to get to the bottom of this tale and keep markets informed.

GDP Carriers

Think about it: These two guys were carrying the gross domestic product of New Zealand or enough for three Beijing Olympics. If economies were for sale, the men could buy Slovakia and Croatia and have plenty left over for Mongolia or Cambodia. Yes, they could have built vacation homes amidst Genghis Khan’s Gobi Desert or the famed Temples of Angkor. Bernard Madoffwho?

These men carrying bonds concealed in the bottom of their luggage also would be the fourth-largest U.S. creditors. It makes you wonder if some of the time Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spends keeping the Chinese and Japanese invested in dollars should be devoted to well-financed men crossing the Italian-Swiss border.

This tale has gotten little attention in markets, perhaps because of the absurdity of our times. The last year has been a decidedly disorienting one for capitalists who once knew up from down, red from black and risk from reward. It almost fits with the surreal nature of today that a couple of travelers have more U.S. debt than Brazil in a suitcase and, well, that’s life.

Clancy Bestseller

You can almost picture Tom Clancy sitting in his study thinking: “Damn! Why didn’t I think of this yarn and novelize it years ago?” He could have sprinkled in a Chinese angle, a pinch of Russian intrigue, a dose of Pyongyang and a bit of Taiwan-Strait tension into the mix. Presto, a sure bestseller.

Daniel Craig may be thinking this is a great story on which to base the next James Bond flick. Perhaps Don Johnson could buy the rights to this tale. In 2002, the “Miami Vice” star was stopped by German customs officers as he was traveling in a car carrying credit notes and other securities worth as much as $8 billion. Now he could claim it was all, uh, research.

When I first heard of the $134 billion story, I was tempted to glance at my calendar to make sure it didn’t read April 1.

Let’s assume for a moment that these U.S. bonds are real. That would make a mockery of Japanese Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano’s “absolutely unshakable” confidence in the credibility of the U.S. dollar. Yosano would have some explaining to do about Japan’s $686 billion of U.S. debt if more of these suitcase capers come to light.

‘Kennedy Bonds’

Counterfeit $100 bills are one thing; two guys with undeclared bonds including 249 certificates worth $500 million and 10 “Kennedy bonds” of $1 billion each is quite another.

It would be terrible news for the White House. Other than the U.S., China or Japan, no other nation could theoretically move those amounts. In the absence of clear explanations coming from the Treasury, conspiracy theories are filling the void.

On his blog, the Market Ticker, Karl Denninger wonders if the Treasury “has been surreptitiously issuing bonds to, say, Japan, as a means of financing deficits that someone didn’t want reported over the last, oh, say 10 or 20 years.” Adds Denninger: “Let’s hope we get those answers, and this isn’t one of those ‘funny things’ that just disappears into the night.”

This is still a story with far more questions than answers. It’s odd, though, that it’s not garnering more media attention. Interest is likely to grow. The last thing Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke need right now is tens of billions more of U.S. bonds — or even high-quality fake ones — suddenly popping up around the globe.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 18, 2012 at 6:09 am

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