Courageous or Dumb?
Okay, I've just got to stop what I'm doing and ask the question - What possibly could be going on here?
If it looks like a Duck, smells like a Duck, sounds like a Duck; Maybe it's a Duck!
I just heard about this and my curiosity is peaking!
On Thursday, June 11, 2009 Italian police of the Guardia di Finanza seized US$134 billion of United States bearer bonds at the border with Switzerland at Chiasso. The bonds include 249 Treasury bonds worth $500 million each, and ten $1 billion Kennedy Bonds. Bearer bonds are unregistered bonds that are redeemable by whoever is in possession.
The bonds were being transported by two men claiming Japanese citizenship. The bonds were undeclared and were uncovered by inspectors beneath a false bottom in a suitcase. The United States no longer issues bonds in such high denominations and according to the U.S. Treasury, only China, Japan, and Russia own this much in U.S. debt instruments.
So are these bonds forgeries?
No one is saying yet. So they must be pretty good forgeries. And that creates a bigger set of issues and questions. But if they are genuine, Italian law will permit the Italian government to seize 40% of the value, some $54 billion for failure to declare these bonds. That's a big bonus for the Italian government and Seppuku for the transporters. Dumb move guys! And if they are real, what the heck was going on? Who walks around with 134 billion dollars of negotiable monetary instruments in their possession without armed guards and high-tech security. Once again- Dumb move guys! Unless you're up to no good! And then you have lots of guns and ammunition with you and fight your way out. Still a Dumb move!
The Japanese government has said that they are aware of the situation and that they are working with the Italian government to confirm the identity and nationality of the individuals.
A bearer bond is a debt security issued by a business entity, such as a corporation, or by a government. It differs from the more common types of investment securities in that it is unregistered – no records are kept of the owner, or the transactions involving ownership. Whoever physically holds the paper on which the bond is issued owns the instrument. This is useful for investors who wish to retain anonymity. The downside is that in the event of loss or theft, bearer bonds are extremely difficult to recover.