This bundle of paper seized recently by police is worth more than the entire British economy.
They're bonds, notes from the US Federal Reserve bank, promising to pay the bearer whatever amount they show - in this case $2.3 trillion from the 1930s.
.that's if they're genuine.
Apparently the world is full of such illusory bonds.
If you ever come across one, who can you trust to sort the good from the bad. .
Set up Halksworth
If you didn't know better, you might go to an authenticator like 69 year old Graham Halksworth.
A paper specialist and former police advisor, Halksworth seems to have all the right credentials.
He's certainly got the patter.
I am picking a particular spot which is just to the right of the dollar sign on the document so that when I turn it over I can go back to that particular spot.
In SIX years of authenticating US Treasury bonds, Halksworth, whod agreed to be filmed while on bail, says he made just over £60,000.
CITY OF London POLICE
But in April 2001 his nice little earner came to an end when the City of London Police got a tip off from the other side of the world.
We had a fax sent over from HK commercial branch police
and that what really put us on the trail.
Ext HSBC Holborn
The police raided HALKSWORTHs bank vault at the Holborn branch of the HSBC. There they found US Treasury bonds with an amazing face value of just over a trillion dollars.
Video tape recorder
Halksworth told police an extraordinary story.
He reckoned the bonds were printed BY THE American SECRET SERVICE in the 1930s.
They were in exchange for the gold of this man, Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek, to protect it from Maos communists.
They flew in these boxes to the Chinese warlords to replace the gold that had been removed.
Like all good conspiracy theories this one has an element of truth.
CIA records show that there was indeed a secret mission to remove gold from China.
But Halksworth moved way beyond this. He was now claiming these bonds had survived for 70 years; been passed to him by a client and were authentic.
In my opinion this was printed in the period 1934 and 1947.
IN reaching these rather exciting conclusions. GH relied heavily on this massive report commissioned from the Spanish Univ. of Catalonia.
It was written by the intriguingly named Anna Maria Feixas , a forensic scientists who said she had a specialism in the field of Graphoscopic Analyses
Internet enquiries basically revealed
.nothing to do with the printing of bonds.
If that wasn't damaging enough, apparently neither Ms Feixas nor Halksworth had spotted some elementary mistakes
On some of the bonds there were simple spelling mistakes. They'd spelled million without an L and with two Es.
They looked basically like a child had produced them.
DAMNING THOUGH THIS MAY APPEAR, THIS DIDN'T PHASE HALKSWORTH
If you are going to produce high value documents that are for a covert operation, youd want them to look less like regular currency than the regular currency itself.
But there was much worse to come. The bonds, remember, were meant to be from the 1930s. Police sent them to forensics.
They felt that the bonds themselves were ink jet printed and the tech for ink jet printing did not come in until the 1970s, 1980s
Police now knew Halksworths authentication was dodgy. But without a conspirator or a victim, there was no crime. For a year the case dangled.
But then, enter Michael Slamaj.
A tip off revealed this Croatian born Canadian was in London hunting for a buyer for more dubious bonds.
On arrest, another far fetched story. Slamaj said he'd got the bonds on a business trip to the Philippines. Locals there told him theyd stumbled upon them inside the wreck of an old American bomber that had crashed in the jungle.
Police then discovered some of these bonds, allegedly worth billions of dollars, had been authenticated by the expert, Halksworth.
He was just a client. I think I only met on about seven occasions altogether, two of them were because he popped in for a cup of coffee while he was in London.
But Police suspected there was more to their relationship than coffee mornings.
They said the two men had conspired to use the fake bonds to defraud people as yet unknown.
A jury agreed with them and last month found them guilty.
How can you get arrested and charged with conspiracy for putting your opinion on paper to me is ludicrous.
But it was not ludicrous to the judge who today gave both men six years to reflect the huge amounts involved and grave potential loss to possible victims.
exterior of prison
Q: What would you do if someone brought you more bonds?
Would you do it again?
A: Good question that
Id have to think about it.