More Pinochet-US bank links revealed

Former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet had 125 secret bank accounts holding cash, stocks and bonds in the United States - allowing him to move at least $13 million to the US.

    Pinochet (L) staged a coup in 1973 and ruled Chile until 1990

    According to the US Senate's Carl Levin, "new information shows that the web of Pinochet accounts in the US was far more extensive, went on far longer and involved more banks than was previously disclosed".  
      
    In June, the Senate revealed that Pinochet had accounts at Riggs Bank in Washington, which may have held as much as $8 million.
      
    The Senate investigations subcommittee announced on Tuesday that Pinochet had 28 accounts at Riggs and 97 elsewhere: Citigroup, Banco de Chile, Espiritu Santo in Florida, Banco Atlantico, Bank of America and Coutts and Co, owned by Banco Santander since 2003.
      
    The 89-year-old Pinochet rose to power after a coup toppled elected Socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973 and ruled with an iron fist until 1990.
      
    Pinochet and his supporters have said he was a selfless military man who saved Chile from a Socialist president. However, a number of investigations inside and outside Chile may damage the retired general's image.
      
    "Through lax due diligence or worse, too many banks allowed a notorious public figure, Augusto Pinochet, to build a secret web of US accounts using offshore corporations, deceptive account names and third-party conduits to hide his role in moving millions of dollars across international lines," Levin said in a statement. 
      
    Further investigation

    Pinochet and members of his family are known to have deposited between $4 million and $8 million at Riggs Bank in Washington.
      
    Judge Sergio Munoz, in charge of the investigation in Santiago, found that Pinochet accounts were opened at Banco de Chile branches in New York and Miami.
      
    According to Munoz' investigation, Pinochet and his wife, Lucia Hiriart, had salted away $15.9 million in various bank accounts.
      
    The former president was recently charged for the first time with nine of approximately 3000 murders, by official count, under his regime.
      
    The top leadership of his feared secret police was charged last month in connection with those human rights violations.

    SOURCE: AFP


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