Italian and US secret services are now claiming the mob is behind the whole thing, which we like a whole lot. Stand by for comment from by you know who shortly. The FT reports:
Whether the men are really Japanese, as their passports declare, is unclear but Italian and US secret services working together soon concluded that the bills and accompanying bank documents were most probably counterfeit, the latest handiwork of the Italian Mafia.
Few details have been revealed beyond a June 4 statement by the Italian finance police announcing the seizure of 249 US Treasury bills, each of $500m, and 10 "Kennedy" bonds, used as inter-government payments, of $1bn each. The men were apparently tailed by the Italian authorities.
The mystery deepened on Thursday as an Italian blog quoted Colonel Rodolfo Mecarelli of the Como provincial finance police as saying the two men had been released. The colonel and police headquarters in Rome both declined to respond to questions from the Financial Times.
"They are all fraudulent, it's obvious. We don't even have paper securities outstanding for that value,'' said Mckayla Braden, senior adviser for public affairs at the Bureau of Public Debt at the US Treasury department. "This type of scam has been going on for years.''