Central Bank employees will count about 30 tons of Venezuelan currency seized in a private house in Paraguay, while officials try to figure out why the vast quantity of 50- and 100-bolivar bills was brought into the country. The cash was discovered in Salto del Guaira, a city about 370 kilometers northeast of the capital of Asuncion, on the border with Brazil in a region known for the contraband trade.
Paraguayan officials said they are trying to determine whether the money was brought into the country legally. The only person detained so far is Leandro Da Costa, owner of the house where the money was found.
Prosecutor Julio Yegros said that the quantity of bills was too big for the people in his office to count it manually, so he asked for help from the Central Bank, which has the respective machinery.
The counting should begin in the coming days, he said.
Police sources have indicated that the bills date back four years and apparently were crossed over from Brazil to Paraguay six months ago. The bills are estimated to add up to over a trillion Bolivares, and were on the market for three million dollars.
Yegros said Da Costa has told authorities the money was bought to his house by a friend of his son.
There are many rumors in Salto del Guaira, Yegros said. One is that the bills have no value as money because, supposedly, they were pulled from circulation by the Venezuelan government in January.
Another rumor is that the bills' paper is of high quality, meaning it could be reused for legal or illegal purposes.
Currency-quality paper is needed for counterfeiting, though authorities did not specifically mention this as a possible use for the bills.
In December, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that his country's popular 100-bolivar banknote would be pulled from circulation and replaced with a higher-denomination bill. But he later extended use of the denomination when the replacement note wasn't ready and people left without currency looted stores.
In January, the new bills ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars were put in circulation and there is Feb. 20 deadline for the 100-bolivar notes to remain legal tender.