Two middle-aged men have reportedly been detained in Italy while trying to take $134bn in US bonds – equivalent to the entire GDP of Kazakhstan – into Switzerland.
The undeclared bonds were discovered by Italian police in the false bottom of a suitcase when they searched the men on a train stopping in Chiasso, near the Swiss border, on 3 June. Japan is investigating reports that two of its citizens are involved.
The two men would, if the bonds are genuine, be the US government's fourth-biggest creditor, ahead of the UK with $128bn of US debt, and behind Russia, which is owed $138bn. The two men could also be fined around 40 per cent of the total value of the bonds – $38bn.