February 19, 2012 by staff
Treasury Bonds, Italian anti-mafia prosecutors said they seized a record $6 trillion of allegedly fake U.S. Treasury bonds, an amount that’s almost half of the U.S.’s public debt.
The bonds were found hidden in makeshift compartments of three safety deposit boxes in Zurich, the prosecutors from the southern city of Potenza said in an e-mailed statement. The Italian authorities arrested eight people in connection with the probe, dubbed “Operation Vulcanica,” the prosecutors said.
The U.S. embassy in Rome has examined the securities dated 1934, which had a nominal value of $1 billion apiece, they said in the statement. “Thanks to Italian authorities for the seizure of fictitious bonds for $6 trillion,” the embassy said in a message on Twitter.
The financial fraud uncovered by the Italian prosecutors in Potenza includes two checks issued through HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) in London for 205,000 pounds ($325,000), checks that weren’t backed by available funds, the prosecutors said. As part of the probe, fake bonds for $2 billion were also seized in Rome. The individuals involved were planning to buy plutonium from Nigerian sources, according to phone conversations monitored by the police.
The fraud posed “severe threats” to international financial stability, the prosecutors said in the statement. HSBC spokesman Patrick Humphris in London declined to comment when contacted by telephone. The U.S. Secret Service assisted the Italian authorities, spokesman Edwin Donovan said.
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