Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strangest story of the week

From an Italian Ministry of Finance press release, June 4:

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.
Or, as translated (with some human help) by Google translate:
249 bonds of the US Federal Reserve, the nominal value of 500 mln dollars each, plus' 10 bond Kennedy 1 billion dollars each, hidden in the double bottom of a suitcase, for a total of 134 billion dollars, equivalent to over 96 billion euros.

And 'what they have seized the international railway station of Chiasso, the border between Switzerland and Italy, officials of the Chamber of Chiasso Operativa Territoriale, in collaboration with the soldiers of the Guardia di Finanza Group Ponte Chiasso, at the controls to counter illicit trade in capital.

The values were owned by two Japanese fifties fell to Chiasso train station by a train coming from that at the time of customs control, have claimed they have nothing to declare.
Building on a (very flowery) report by the Italian newspaper Il Gironale, the Japanese news service Kyodo reported:
Two Japanese nationals were detained by Italian financial police last week after trying to enter Switzerland with $134 billion worth of undeclared U.S. bonds, mostly Treasury bonds, an Italian daily said Wednesday. The Japanese consulate general in Milan confirmed that the detention had taken place and said it was trying to confirm with Italian authorities whether the two were indeed Japanese nationals and their identities.

According to the report in il Giornale, two unidentified Japanese in their 50s concealed the bonds, including 249 U.S. Treasury bonds each worth $500 million, in a suitcase with a false bottom that was searched by the Italian authorities June 3 when they were in Chiasso, at the border with Switzerland, about 50 kilometers north of Milan.
Bloomberg helpfully notes that $134 billion in bearer bonds is more than the US debt held by the U.K. Presumably Her Majesty’s treasury does not transport its Treasuries to unnumbered Swiss bank accounts in false-bottomed suitcases.

Several reports have helpfully speculated that the bonds are more likely counterfeit than genuine. Obviously something’s not quite right.

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