Rome - Police in Italy have seized $1.5bn worth of US bonds and more than 1 000 tons worth of gold deposit certificates of dubious origin, according to media reports Saturday.
A man with a criminal record for extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking and burglary was also arrested near Rome in connection with an investigation dubbed "Million Dollar" by tax police.
The US bonds date back to the 1930s and are still in circulation. The gold certificates are worth $4bn the daily La Repubblica reported online.
According to investigators, the securities were probably used as loan guarantees or for international financial transactions.
The police said it was in talks with officials from the US Federal Reserve and the US embassy in Rome to determine "the authenticity, nature and origin of the bonds, as well as their destination and possible links between the [arrested] man and criminal organisations."