Two Japanese citizens carrying $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds were detained last week by Italy's financial police at Chiasso (40km from Milan) on the border between Italy and Switzerland, an Italian daily said Wednesday.

According to the report, they include 249 U.S. Treasury bonds each worth $500 million, plus 10 Kennedy bonds and other U.S. government securities worth a billion dollar each.

The two unidentified Japanese citizen were searched on June 3 when they were in Chiasso. They were detained on suspicion of attempting to take a large amount of securities out of Italy without declaring it.

The bonds were found hidden in the bottom of the suitcase, in a closed section separated from the part of the bag containing personal items.

Apart from the securities the Japanese men were carrying a considerable sum of original bank documents.

Investigations are underway to establish the identity and the origin of both the bonds and the bank documents that have also been impounded.

In order to stop money laundering Italian law sets a ceiling of €10,000 per person for importing or exporting money without declaring it. The penalty for violating the law is 40 per cent of the money seized.

If the certificates were real, the fine alone would amount to US$ 38 billion, five times the estimated cost of rebuilding quake-devastated Abruzzi region. It would help Italy’s eliminate its public deficit.

If the certificates are fakes the two Japanese nationals could get a very lengthy jail sentence for fraud.

The US Embassy in Rome was informed.