ASIA – ITALY
US government securities seized from Japanese nationals, not clear whether real or fake
Bonds worth US$ 134.5 billion are seized. This is the largest financial smuggling case in history. But are they real? Concern over 'funny money' or counterfeit securities is spreading in Asia. The international press is silent.
Milan (AsiaNews) – Italy's financial police (Guardia italiana di Finanza) has seized US bonds worth US 134.5 billion from two Japanese nationals at Chiasso (40 km from Milan) on the border between Italy and Switzerland. They include 249 US Federal Reserve bonds worth US$ 500 million each, plus ten Kennedy bonds and other US government securities worth a billion dollar each.
Italian authorities have not yet determined whether they are real or fake, but if they are real the attempt to take them into Switzerland would be the largest financial smuggling operation in history; if they are fake, the matter would be even more mind-boggling because the quality of the counterfeit work is such that the fake bonds are undistinguishable from the real ones.
What caught the policemen's attention were the billion dollar securities. Such a large denomination is not available in regular financial and banking markets. Only states handle such amounts of money.
The question now is who could or would counterfeit or smuggle these non-negotiable bonds.
In order to stop money laundering Italian law sets a ceiling of 10,000 euros per person for importing or exporting money without declaring it. The penalty for violating the law is 40 per cent of the money seized.
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.
For AsiaNews a few points need considering:
1. When it comes to Italy the world press has tended to focus on Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi's personal problems rather than on stories like the bonds smuggling affair which has been front page on Italian newspapers.
2. The fear of counterfeit bonds and securities has spread across Asia with the result that real securities are also considered with suspicion.
3. During the Second World War several countries at war printed and put in circulation perfectly counterfeit enemy money. It is also historically established that some central banks, like the Bank of Italy 65 years ago, issued the same securities twice (identical registered number and code). This way they could print more money with legal tender than they officially declared. The main difference though is that 65 years ago the world was involved in a bloody war, which is not the case today.
Como: Sequestrati a Chiasso Titoli Usa Per 96 Mld Di Euro
Gio 4 Giu - 15.16
Milano, 4 giu. (Adnkronos) - Duecentoquarantanove bond della Federal Reserve statunitense, del valore nominale di 500 mln di dollari ciascuno, piu' 10 bond Kennedy da 1 mld di dollari ciascuno, occultati nel doppio fondo di una valigia, per un totale di ben 134 mld di dollari, pari a oltre 96 mld di euro. E' quanto hanno sequestrato alla stazione ferroviaria internazionale di Chiasso, al confine tra Svizzera e Italia, funzionari della Sezione Operativa Territoriale di Chiasso, in collaborazione con i militari della Guardia di Finanza del Gruppo di Ponte Chiasso, nel corso dei controlli volti al contrasto del traffico illecito di capitali.
I valori erano posseduti da due cinquantenni giapponesi scesi alla stazione ferroviaria di Chiasso da un treno proveniente dall'Italia che, al momento del controllo doganale, hanno sostenuto di non avere nulla da dichiarare. Un'accurata verifica dei bagagli ha consentito invece di trovare i titoli Usa, occultati sul fondo di una valigia, in uno scomparto chiuso e separato da quello contenente gli indumenti personali. Oltre ai titoli, i due giapponesi trasportavano una cospicua documentazione bancaria in originale.
Per i bond e la documentazione che li accompagnava, anch'essa sottoposta a sequestro, sono in corso indagini volte a stabilirne autenticita' e provenienza. Qualora i titoli risultassero autentici, in base alla vigente normativa, la sanzione amministrativa applicabile ai possessori potrebbe raggiungere i 38 miliardi di euro, pari al 40% della somma eccedente la franchigia ammessa di 10mila euro.