• Switzerland's news in English
 

$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
Fifa's 65th congress
Blatter beats off critics to win fifth Fifa term
Photo: AFP

Blatter beats off critics to win fifth Fifa term

Sepp Blatter won a fifth term as Fifa president on Friday in a dramatic end to an angry campaign dominated by a corruption storm that engulfed the leadership of world football. READ  

Fifa's 65th congress
Police: all clear after Fifa meeting bomb threat
Demonstrators outside Fifa congress protest against Blatter. Photo: AFP

Police: all clear after Fifa meeting bomb threat

Fifa's 65th congress resumed after a bomb threat disrupted proceedings in Zurich's Hallenstadion early Friday afternoon. READ  

Presented by Blondel
Swiss chocolate with a story: Blondel
Photo: Jan Vašek/StockSnap

Swiss chocolate with a story: Blondel

It's a fact: Swiss chocolate has conquered the world. But what's so special about it, and what's it like to run a prestigious chocolaterie? The Local asked chocolate experts Blondel. READ  

Fifa's 65th congress
Blatter appeals for unity at Fifa congress
Blatter gives thumbs up during congress on Friday. Photo: AFP

Blatter appeals for unity at Fifa congress

Fifa president Sepp Blatter appealed for unity on Friday in an opening speech to the world football body’s 65th congress in Zurich, where he is seeking re-election as the organization struggles to deal with a messy corruption crisis. READ  

Strong franc hammers Swiss economy in Q1
Photo: AFP

Strong franc hammers Swiss economy in Q1

The Swiss economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, the national statistics agency said Friday, as the sharp appreciation of the franc hammered the country's key export sector. READ  

Profile
Prince Ali out to wrestle Fifa from Blatter
Prince Ali (centre) leaving Zurich hotel. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Prince Ali out to wrestle Fifa from Blatter

A former wrestler and army officer, Jordan's Prince Ali bin Hussein is bidding to pry control of football's governing-body Fifa from current president Sepp Blatter on Friday. READ  

Fifa corruption scandal
Official questions 'Hollywood' Fifa raid
Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad al Sabah. Photo: AFP

Official questions 'Hollywood' Fifa raid

A top Olympic official about to join Fifa's executive has questioned the timing of what he called a "Hollywood-style" operation in Switzerland to detain Fifa members in a corruption raid. READ  

Fifa corruption scandal
Blatter rejects calls to quit as Fifa meet opens
Blatter addressing Fifa congress on Thursday. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Blatter rejects calls to quit as Fifa meet opens

Embattled Fifa president Sepp Blatter on Thursday warned of "more bad news" for football's scandal tainted world body but rejected calls to resign over a widening corruption scandal. READ  

Boffins discover why Swiss cheese has holes
Photo: Agroscope

Boffins discover why Swiss cheese has holes

Eureka! After about a century of research, Swiss scientists have finally cracked the mystery of the holes in Swiss cheese. READ  

Swiss returns home to make 'gender-fluid' film
Photo: Turbid Lake Pictures (detail)

Swiss returns home to make 'gender-fluid' film

Swiss filmmaker Florian Halbedl is returning to Switzerland from his current home in Canada to shoot an unusual short film in the canton of Ticino with his trans-gender partner. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Swiss filmmaker returns home to shoot 'gender-fluid' film in Ticino
Features
Severed rope recalls Matterhorn's first ascent 150 years ago
National
Top Swiss court refuses to recognize child's two gay 'fathers'
National
Woman's scoop for Ticino online news site: 'I killed my husband'
National
Four Swiss bathing areas 'unfit' for swimmers: Euro environmental body
Technology
Scientists from Zurich university find craters beneath Lake Neuchâtel
National
Prince William in Switzerland backs fight to protect endangered species
National
Swiss Federal Railways rely on sheep to 'mow' grass alongside tracks
Sport
Switzerland to host 2020 international ice hockey tourney
Business & Money
I never learned German: departing Credit Suisse CEO's regret
Sport
International tennis museum in US showcases Federer hologram
National
Inequality greater than most Swiss think: opinion poll for unions
National
Shooting in Switzerland leaves five dead in domestic drama near Zurich
National
Swiss Federal Railways tackle taboo subject of suicide in bid to cut deaths
National
German expats in Switzerland face discrimination: report
Travel
High prices blunt Swiss tourism's cutting edge: World Economic Forum
Business & Money
Ticked off Rolex slaps Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on wrist
National
Shock and humour drive police safety video warning over 'inattention'
National
Switzerland ranks 13th best place in world for mothers: NGO
Education
Times Higher Education rates EPFL world's top 'young university'
Travel
Switzerland's trains again ranked best for performance in Europe
National
Ten percent of Swiss farmers fail to meet government regulations
National
Municipality of Zermatt bans taking selfies with Saint Bernard dogs
Business & Money
Salt (formerly Orange) aims to shake up Switzerland's mobile market
National
Switzerland tops 2015 world 'happiness index' developed by UN
National
New book: Swiss architect Le Corbusier was 'out-and-out fascist'
Features
Tasty street food catches on in biggest Swiss cities
Sport
Invasion of frogs forces early end to Zurich football game
National
New ranking downgrades the 'power' of Switzerland's passport
Features
Swiss hotel management schools serve up 'world best' recipe
National
Segways win approval for operation on Swiss bicycle lanes
National
Joan Baez and Sting in lineup for this summer's Paléo music festival
National
Second CERN club skier dies from avalanche in Valais Alps
Sport
Lausanne and IOC celebrate a century of Olympism
National
Bern waters down criteria for beer that can be labelled ‘Swiss’
National
Internet giant Google named most attractive employer in Switzerland
National
VIDEO: Swiss television satire clip ridicules Americans on ski slopes
National
Immigration remains top election issue for Swiss voters: opinion poll
National
Environmental bureau ranks Zurich first among Europe's 'sootfree cities'
National
Zurich crane-climbing stunt by teenager flags 'roofer' concerns
Education
THE ranks EPFL among seven 'fastest rising young universities'
Features
Mobility takes off as young urban Swiss catch the car-sharing bug
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

4,317
jobs available