M A N I L A, Philippines, Feb. 20, 2001 -- Officials said today they have
seized more than $2 trillion in counterfeit U.S. Federal Reserve
bonds and arrested one suspect in the southern Philippines.
Police also showed reporters stacks of counterfeit Japanese yenand Argentine peso notes in various denominations, a few fakeone-dollar bills and some other currencies seized Saturday.
Police and staff from the U.S. Embassy arrested a Filipino manin the southern city of Cagayan de Oro with the falsifiedcurrencies and U.S. bonds along with German and Argentine bonds — atotal counterfeit haul of $2,157,044,400,000.
‘Very Good Quality’
The fakes were of "very good quality" but some of the bonddenominations do not exist, said David Popp, a U.S. TreasuryDepartment representative.
The U.S. bonds, totaling more $2 trillion, were in denominationsranging from tens of thousands of dollars to $500 million. Thebonds of other countries were in denominations as small as $30.
Popp said the large bonds may have been meant for a major "losttreasure" scam.
"Very frequently these fraudsters weave a tale that there'sthese long-lost Federal Reserve bonds hidden away or found in aplane crash," Popp told a news conference.
The raid on the house also found two metal boxes from the U.S.Federal Reserve, said Nestor Gualberto, Philippine National Policesuperintendent.
Some Smuggled Out of the Country?
He said police charged Archie Mingoc with counterfeiting andwere seeking five others. He said some of the bonds had been soldin the southern Philippines and that police were trying to discoverwhether others were smuggled out of the country.
"We know they were selling some bonds to very curious buyers —businessmen in the area," Gualberto said. "We're stillascertaining where they're coming from."
The raid follows two other large-scale seizures in Mindanao inDecember 1999 and February 2000, when a combined $110 billion in"good quality" fake bonds and currency were found.
Cagayan de Oro, 500 miles southeast of Manila, is in thesouthern region torn by at least three guerrilla uprisings.
Two Muslim separatist groups are fighting to carve homelands outof the region, while communist guerrillas are fighting to overthrowthe government.
Strife in the poverty-stricken region also makes it home tokidnapping and other crime.