CHILE: Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet used an intricate web of more than 100 US bank accounts, including 63 with Citigroup, to hide and launder at least $15 million, a US Senate report shows.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found Gen Pinochet's use of the US financial system to cloak his financial dealings extended far beyond his accounts at Riggs Bank, which has admitted to failing to report suspicious transactions and paid a criminal fine.
The former Chilean president's activities also involved accounts at Banco de Chile and Espirito Santo Bank, the report said. Related accounts and transactions were also found in at least five other banks.
Most of the Pinochet accounts at Citigroup, the world's largest financial services company, were handled by Citibank Private Bank, the report said.
"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," said senator Carl Levin, the panel's top Democrat. "Some banks actively helped him hide his funds, others failed to comply with US regulations requiring banks to know their customers."
The report shows Gen Pinochet had the longest and closest link with Riggs, an involvement more extensive than once thought. Instead of the nine accounts first reported, it involved 28 and spanned 25 years, not eight. Riggs, a unit of Riggs National Corp, also opened accounts for Chilean military officers that were used to funnel $1.7 million to Pinochet-linked accounts, the report said.
The first related accounts at Citigroup were opened in 1981 and the company has identified 63 US accounts and certificates of deposit opened for Gen Pinochet and his family in New York and Miami between then and 2004.
In January, Riggs pleaded guilty and agreed to a $16 million fine for violation of the US Bank Secrecy Act. Riggs also agreed in February to settle a Spanish lawsuit by paying $8 million into a fund for victims of the ex-Chilean dictator. - (Reuters)