The raid on Thursday came a day after Pinochet, 89, was put under house arrest at his coastal residence west of Santiago.

Judge Sergio Munoz, who is investigating the origin of up to $8 million that Pinochet held in a Washington bank, carried out the surprise raid along with police.

Munoz questioned Pinochet's eldest daughter Lucia, and some staff who worked for him.

Lucia later said she believed the investigation was nothing but "political persecution" against her father.

Money trail

A 2004 US Senate investigation found that the Riggs Bank in Washington DC had allegedly laundered money in Pinochet's secret accounts between 1994 and 2002.

Before seizing power in a 1973 coup, the Pinochets owned only a small house and a car. But by the time Pinochet stepped down in 1990, he held 11 properties in Chile, including apartments in beach tourist areas and houses in the best areas of Santiago.

Meanwhile in Brussels, Belgian investigators are busy gathering evidence in a case filed against Pinochet by six Chilean exiles in November 1998.

The case charges Pinochet with "assassination, abduction, torture and disappearance".

By official count, some 3000 Chileans were killed by the state during Pinochet's 17-year rule.