A minor crime averted in Italy: Police seized $6 trillion in phony US Treasury bonds that a criminal network reportedly planned to use to buy plutonium. Cops grabbed the fake bonds at a Swiss trust company in the city of Potenza, they said yesterday. US experts identified the forgeries and eight men were arrested on charges of counterfeiting, forgery, and loan-sharking, Reuters reports.
Why loan-sharking? Because the case started as an Italian-Swiss-US investigation into the mafia practice, and grew as prosecutors learned about the bonds through wiretaps and computer transmissions. The phony bond haul equals more than a third of America's national debt, but reaction on Wall Street was light-hearted. "If there's that much less supply now, Treasuries should be rallying," said one brokerage firm strategist.