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Chile judge closes Pinochet money probe

Nine-year inquiry into hundreds of overseas bank accounts belonging to Augusto Pinochet has ended with no charges filed.

Last Modified: 06 Aug 2013 04:19
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The case came to light in 2004 when a US investigation found hundreds of bank accounts in Pinochet's name [EPA]

A Chilean court has decided not to charge family members of former President Augusto Pinochet in a case pertaining to Pinochet’s fortune and his suspected embezzlement of public money.

The decision came on Monday, however, the court did charge six former members of the military who had collaborated with Pinochet in the so-called Riggs case.

Pinochet was charged in 2005 with tax evasion in connection with millions of dollars he held in foreign bank accounts, which came to light in 2004 when a US senate investigation found hundreds of accounts in the name of Pinochet and his relatives at the bank. 

Alleged crimes

The bank had pleaded guilty to a criminal violation of the US bank secrecy act, an anti-money-laundering law, and agreed to pay $16m for failing to report suspicious activity in Pinochet's accounts. Riggs was subsequently acquired by another bank. 

Chilean judge Manuel Antonio Valderrama decided not to charge Pinochet's widow, Lucia Hiriart, and her children but said the decision can be appealed within 15 days. 

Pinochet, who took power in a 1973 military coup, died in 2006 at the age of 91. He did not face a full trial for alleged crimes committed during his 1973-1990 dictatorship, when around 3,000 people were kidnapped and killed and 28,000 were tortured.

An audit by the Universidad de Chile's Business and Economics faculty in 2010 estimated that Pinochet had accumulated $21m before his death, of which more than $17 million was of unknown origin.

The six former military members charged in the case could face five to 10 years in prison if found guilty. 

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