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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 21:07 GMT 22:07 UK
US bank 'hid Pinochet millions'
General Pinochet in 2000
Pinochet allegedly held multiple accounts with Riggs
A US Senate report has alleged that a US bank helped former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet hide up to $8m and evade efforts to seize his assets.

The report alleges the Washington-based Riggs Bank set up several accounts for Gen Pinochet while he was under house arrest in the UK in 1998.

Riggs Bank said it took compliance with regulations seriously and would address the issues raised by the report.

Gen Pinochet's son has dismissed the findings as "lies".

Gen Pinochet, who led Chile from 1973-1990, was under house arrest in the UK during part of the period in question, after Spain requested his extradition on torture charges.

"In 1998, when Mr Pinochet was arrested in London on charges of crimes against humanity and a court issued an order seeking to freeze his bank accounts, Riggs quietly helped him move money from London to the United States," said Senator Carl Levin delivering the conclusions of the report in the permanent sub-committee on investigations.

Chile may investigate

The report alleges that between 1994-2002, Riggs helped Gen Pinochet set up offshore front companies and open accounts in the names of those companies to disguise his control of the accounts.

They are just lies
Marco Antonio Pinochet, Augusto Pinochet's son
The report says Riggs hid the existence of the accounts from investigators for two years.

It concludes that the bank failed to safeguard itself against handling funds that could be construed as money laundering or corruption.

It also alleges that federal regulators had done a poor job of compelling the bank to abide by laws against money-laundering .

Chilean President Ricardo Lagos has said that authorities might investigate the allegations, which have been dismissed by Gen Pinochet's son, Marco Antonio.

"In March 1999 a photocopy of that alleged deposit in Riggs Bank was published, but they are just lies," he told Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

He added that Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon had been to inspect the accounts in the Bahamas and had found nothing.

The UK allowed Gen Pinochet to return to Chile in 2000 after a court found he was too ill to stand trial.

In 2002, Chile's Supreme Court declared the former leader mentally unfit to stand trial.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Juliet Dunlop
"His story has taken a new twist"



SEE ALSO:
Court lifts Pinochet's immunity
28 May 04  |  Americas
Pinochet immunity challenge fails
22 Oct 03  |  Americas
Chile's Pinochet victims testify
13 May 04  |  Americas
US revisits Pinochet 'secrets'
04 May 04  |  Americas
Timeline: Chile
25 May 04  |  Country profiles


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