$134B Bond Fraud May Be Mob Handiwork
US, Italian authorities blame organized crime for huge counterfeiting
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2009 8:18 AM CDT
The counterfeit bonds, with a face value of $134 billion, were hidden in the false bottom of a briefcase.   (Flickr)
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(Newser) – The counterfeit bonds with a face value of $134 billion seized near the Swiss border are probably the work of the Mafia, say Italian and American secret services. The mystery surrounding the suitcase stuffed with fake US Treasury bonds deepened yesterday, after a blog revealed that police had released the two smugglers. They were carrying Japanese passports but may not actually be citizens. "We don't know where they are now," an official in Tokyo told the Financial Times.

Last month, Italian prosecutors broke open a bond scam run by the Sicilian Mafia, aided by corrupt officials in the Venezuelan central bank, which centered on $1 billion in fake financial instruments. But the staggering size of the recently seized bonds—worth more than all the outstanding US paper securities—has dumbfounded investigators and fueled conspiracy theories. Italian police would not answer questions about the smugglers' whereabouts.