• Switzerland's news in English
 
moving_to_switz_header

$6 trillion in fake bonds seized in Switzerland

Published: 17 Feb 2012 14:37 GMT+01:00

Italian anti-mafia prosecutors Friday ordered the seizure in Switzerland of fake US Treasury bonds with a face value of $6.0 trillion -- or over a third of US national debt.

The bonds were found hidden in false compartments in three safety deposit boxes transferred in 2007 from Hong Kong to Zurich and eight arrests have also been made in Italy as part of the investigation, prosecutors said.

Investigators said that members of a criminal network had tried to use the bonds in emerging markets or give them to banks in exchange for money.

The bonds were dated 1934 and one of the deposit boxes also contained a forgery of the Treaty of Versailles, which investigators said could have been used to justify the sums involved as payments between states following World War I.

The operation was "the biggest for this type of investigation," Giovanni Colangelo, the head of the prosecutor's office in the city of Potenza in southern Italy which is leading the investigation, told reporters.

"Everything began with an investigation into mafia clans in the Vulture-Melfese area" in the southern Basilicata region, Colangelo said.

The investigation has allowed detectives to uncover "an international network with people implicated in numerous countries," he said, adding that he believed that more fake bonds were still hidden.

Contacted by AFP, the US embassy in Rome declined to comment.

Prosecutors said experts from the US Federal Reserve and the embassy had examined the fake bonds and found they were high quality.

"The counterfeiting of bonds, the transfer of the deposit boxes from Hong Kong to Switzerland, the global travel (of the suspects) had an enormous cost and we think that the interests are at a high level," Colangelo said.

Friday's was by no means the first seizure of fake US bonds by Italian authorities but by far the one with the highest face value.

In September 2009, Italian police seized $116 billion in phoney bonds and arrested two Filipino nationals carrying them at Milan's airport.

In June of the same year police arrested two Japanese nationals on the Italian-Swiss border carrying bonds with a face value of $134 billion.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss Siberia ends July with below-zero night
The village of La Brevine is known as the Siberia of Switzerland. Photo: Caroline Bishop

Swiss Siberia ends July with below-zero night

The hot weather across Switzerland in July may have broken records, but in the early hours of July 31st one village lived up to its frosty reputation when the temperature fell below zero. READ  

SwissPass could lead to job cuts, says union
SwissPass launches on August 1st. Photo: SBB

SwissPass could lead to job cuts, says union

The new SwissPass from Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), which launches on August 1st, could put ticket office jobs in jeopardy, fears transport staff union SEV. READ  

Naked performers take to Swiss city’s streets
The festival will stage performances in public places around the city. Photo: W Winkler

Naked performers take to Swiss city’s streets

Visitors to Biel/Bienne may be in for a surprise on August 21st-22nd as the Swiss city hosts the world’s first naked performance festival in the city’s streets. READ  

Swissport to be sold in multi-billion franc deal
Photo: AFP/Nicolas Maeterlinck

Swissport to be sold in multi-billion franc deal

Private equity company PAI Partners announced Thursday it is selling Zurich-based airport ground handling and cargo company Swissport International to China's HNA Group for 2.7 billion Swiss francs ($2.8 billion, 2.54 billion euros). READ  

Missing Swiss cats spark record helpline calls
Missing cats concerned 85 percent of calls. Photo: Dennis Jarvis

Missing Swiss cats spark record helpline calls

Switzerland’s recent heatwave resulted in a record number of cats going walkabout in the months of June and July, according to Swiss animal call centre STMZ. READ  

Swiss researcher creates yarn from abattoir waste
The yarn was spun from a gelatine-based thread. Photo: ETH Zurich

Swiss researcher creates yarn from abattoir waste

A PHD student at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich has devised a fibre with similar properties to merino wool from gelatine gathered from slaughterhouse waste. READ  

10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day
Head to Zermatt for a sunset dinner overlooking the Matterhorn. Photo: Marc Weiler

10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day

From mountain-top barbecues to sunrise breakfasts and cliff walks, follow The Local’s suggestions for making the most of Swiss national day on Saturday. READ  

Swiss watches stolen in second museum break-in
The town of Le Locle is a watchmaking centre. Photo: Neuchatel Tourism

Swiss watches stolen in second museum break-in

Burglars have stolen a number of valuable items from the watch museum in Le Locle, in the canton of Neuchâtel, just two months after a similar incident in nearby La Chaux-de-Fonds. READ  

Drunk Swiss man tied up on flight to Bangkok
The Thai Airways flight continued to Bangkok. Photo: Faisal Akram

Drunk Swiss man tied up on flight to Bangkok

Passengers on a flight from Zurich to Bangkok were forced to tie up a drunk Swiss man who caused a fracas during the journey. READ  

Solar Impulse
Millions needed by Solar Impulse after grounding
The solar-powered plane lands in Hawaii. Photo: Eugene Tanner/AFP

Millions needed by Solar Impulse after grounding

The team behind the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 plane, piloted by two Swiss men, said on Tuesday that it needed an additional 20 million euros ($22 million) to complete a historic round-the-world flight after battery damage grounded it for months. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day
National
Swiss army pilfers French water to give to thirsty cows
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
National
The Expat Guide: Moving to Switzerland
National
Swiss army airlifts water to thirsty cows
International
Canary Islands: diver killed in collision with Swiss windsurfer
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
Politics
Immigrant recruits may not be loyal: Army chief
Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world flight halted for repairs
Society
Teenager gets high on vegetarian meal at Zurich club
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Sponsored Article
Geneva's revolutionary marketing education
National
Greece seeks tax revenues from assets 'hidden' in Swiss banks
Culture
Paris police arrest Swiss artist for naked Eiffel Tower selfies
National
Scientists uncover largest Swiss dinosaur skeleton ever found
National
National weather office extends danger alerts as heatwave takes hold
National
Most severe heatwave in Switzerland since 2003 on the way
Travel
Bogglingly expensive Geneva club sandwiches remain 'priciest in world'
Politics
Anti-immigration nationalist party remains most popular: poll
National
Greek finance minister slams Swiss over lack of tax evasion info
Business & Money
Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets next year
National
'Oh God — I'm coming': noisy lovers' complaint goes public
National
Canton of Ticino threatens closing Italy border to asylum seekers
National
Just in case: Swiss National Bank prepares for Grexit 'crisis'
National
Russian crisis fuelled by sanctions threaten 40,000 Swiss jobs: study
National
Art Basel: Art for art's sake — or to make an investment?
National
New survey ranks Zurich Europe's priciest city for expatriates
National
Quarter of residents in Switzerland 'have multiple homes'
Features
Veggie lovers and 'flexitarians' challenge Swiss meat-eating habits
National
Forest officials struggle to save Switzerland's dying ash trees
Education
Historian finds ancient Egyptian papyrus texts in Basel uni library
National
Seven large Swiss employers back 'flexible work' charter
National
Basel police rescue of ducks forces closure of A2 motorway
National
Mother and daughter die as rain storms lash central Switzerland
Sport
'Stan the man' Wawrinka: French Open triumph 'completely crazy'
Culture
Expat's Zurich 'then and now' video shows how little the city has changed
National
Phoney Geneva police officers rob tourists and UN staff
Sport
Blatter's abrupt resignation seen as a 'stunning capitulation'
Features
Cleanup crews head to ski resorts to keep Swiss mountains tidy
Culture
Interlaken museum showcases works by Picasso using Caran d'Ache pencils
National
Low interest rates give tenants right to seek rent reductions in Switzerland
Sport
Switzerland's Blatter fends off critics to win fifth term as Fifa president
National
Agricultural researchers discover why Swiss cheese has holes
Culture
Swiss filmmaker returns home to shoot 'gender-fluid' film in Ticino
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

4,233
jobs available