April 21, 2012 / 1:52 PM / 7 years ago

Italy police seize $5 billion of U.S. securities

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy financial police have seized U.S. securities with face values of about $1.5 billion and gold certificates worth above 3 billion euros ($3.96 billion) as part of an investigation into a possible international

financial scam.

The police said on Saturday the “million dollar” operation was a last step in the probe, which centered on the use of bearer Federal Reserve debt securities dating back to the 1930s as

a guarantee for loans or other opaque cross-border transactions.

Rome police seized the securities from a 70-year-old man, who held them in a briefcase along with documents about financial operations, the police said in a statement.

Police said they were carrying out checks, helped by the U.S. Central Bank and the U.S. embassy in Rome, over the authenticity and origin of the securities, as well as over possible links between the man and criminal organizations.

Reporting By Danilo Masoni; editing by Patrick Graham

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