Bearer bond

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Concept.png Bearer bond Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
$1 billion US government gold redemption bearer bond - authenticity dubious
Million dollar notes? Very useful when smuggling/money-laundering etc.

A Bearer bond is a document that promises to pay cash, gold or other valuable to whoever presents it to the issuer for redemption. Any third party who judges such a bond genuine may accept it as collateral on a loan or purchase it, either at face value, or at a discount based on a judgment of its likely genuineness and the issuers' ability to redeem it. Some of these bonds have been issued with very high values (millions of dollars or even more), and as such, they are important in the area of smuggling and of laundering of illicit profits.


In the United States, bearer bonds were first introduced in the late 1800s, to fund Reconstruction during the post-Civil War era. These investments proved instantly popular, because they could be easily transferred and because millions of dollars could be issued using relatively few certificates, simplifying transactions. Europe and South America soon followed suit, issuing similar bonds for use in their own financial markets.

Bearer bonds are also called coupon bonds because the physical bond certificates contain attached coupons that are redeemable at an authorized agent, for biannual interest payments. This activity is commonly referred to as "clipping coupons".[1]


The US treasury restarted issuing of bearer bonds in the 1980s, reportedly as a way of attracting cash to help tackle interest rates. They quickly became the instrument of choice for money laundering. After about 6 years of attracting drug money with this expedient, the policy ceased.[2]


The US government no longer issues bearer bonds.[citation needed]

Early 20th century

  • The bearer bonds that repeatedly turned up in incredible amounts on the Swiss/Italian border are supposedly very good forgeries of old US treasury bonds. This official narrative has a number of anomalies.[3] In a now removed article, Bloomberg reported about the $134.5 billion suitcase story (later reports say $742 billion)[4] on June 16, 2009, that: "This is still a story with far more questions than answers. It’s odd, though, that it’s not garnering more media attention".[5] This case has been termed the "Chiasso financial smuggling case" on Wikipedia.[6] Other media started to report a few days after the Bloomberg article.[7][8][9][10]
  • In 2012 Italian police announced that it had seized $6 trillion of fake U.S. Treasury bonds in Switzerland.[11][12][13][14][15][16]
  • Another story from 2012 reports about $300 billion faked bonds that were allegedly found in an airplane wreck in the Philippines.[17]

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