[Marxism] China gave millions to Pinochet

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 13 10:18:48 MDT 2005


NY Times, December 7, 2004
U.S. and Others Gave Millions to Pinochet
By TIMOTHY L. O'BRIEN and LARRY ROHTER

Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator, received 
multimillion-dollar payments from the governments of several countries, 
including the United States, during his 25-year tenure as Chile's ruler and 
military chief, according to documents recently uncovered during a Senate 
committee investigation into suspected money laundering at Riggs Bank.

The documents, including General Pinochet's sworn financial statements, 
show that he received $3 million from the United States government in 1976 
and, in other years, $1.5 million from Paraguay, $1 million from Spain, 
$2.5 million from China, a combined payment of $2.5 million from Britain 
and China, and a combined payment of $3 million from Britain, Malaysia and 
Brazil. From 1974 to 1997, the payments totaled at least $12.3 million.

The documents, originally given to Riggs by the Chilean defense ministry, 
were verified by a senior Riggs executive assessing the sources of the 
general's wealth. The payments from foreign governments were described as 
"commissions from service and travel abroad."

General Pinochet, who is 89, assumed control in Chile after overthrowing 
the elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973. He instituted a police 
state, oversaw the kidnapping and killing of some 4,000 political 
dissidents, laid the foundation of a stable economy and kept a tight grip 
on power until 1990. Until 1998, he remained commander in chief of the 
military. Now he faces potential charges of human rights abuses in Chile as 
well as legislative and tax service investigations there of his financial 
dealings.

In 1976, the year General Pinochet received his payment from the United 
States, there were two pivotal events for Chile. The intelligence services 
of Chile and other South American countries agreed on a wide-ranging 
campaign to kill exiled political opponents. Shortly after that, a former 
Chilean foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, and his American assistant were 
blown up in their car on a busy street in Washington, an event that led to 
a reassessment of the United States' relationship with the Pinochet government.

Riggs Bank, a subsidiary of the Riggs National Corporation, based in 
Washington, has been embroiled in federal investigations of possible money 
laundering and terrorist financing since late in 2002. At that time, 
investigators began to examine Saudi Arabian Embassy accounts at the bank 
for possible links to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a connection 
that American authorities have since discounted.

Even so, improprieties were uncovered in the overall handling of Saudi 
accounts at Riggs, as well as in the management of General Pinochet's 
accounts. The sources of about $700 million in cash and investment accounts 
at Riggs controlled by the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea or by 
some of its leaders have also come under scrutiny, at a time American 
companies are courting Equatorial Guinea, a growing producer of oil.

In May, federal regulators fined Riggs for failing to comply with bank 
secrecy laws, and a criminal investigation of the bank and its executives 
for possible money laundering is under way at the Justice Department. No 
Riggs officials have been charged with wrongdoing, although a former Riggs 
executive is the subject of a grand jury investigation into bank fraud.

The Saudis have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and the government of 
Equatorial Guinea has declined to comment. A lawyer for General Pinochet, 
and for his nonprofit foundation in Chile, declined to comment Monday about 
the sources of the general's wealth or dealings with Riggs.

Senate investigators published a lengthy report in July that detailed 
multimillion-dollar accounts that General Pinochet and his wife, Lucia, 
held at Riggs. The accounts, valued at $4 million to $8 million, were 
disguised and moved around the world for years with the cooperation of 
Riggs officials. The Senate investigations subcommittee released the 
general's financial statements about three weeks ago.

An independent Chilean journalist, Patricia Verdugo, first discussed the 
new documents in public last Friday at a news conference in Santiago, the 
Chilean capital.

Riggs's own profile of General Pinochet indicates that he was a customer of 
the bank since 1985 and that the bank used his will, contracts, financial 
statements and sales receipts to verify his wealth.

Although General Pinochet never earned more than a modest government 
salary, Riggs described the source of his prosperity as "family wealth" and 
a "high-paying position in public sector for many years."

Chilean government investigators have repeatedly dismissed family wealth or 
government service as the real sources of General Pinochet's money in the 
Riggs accounts. But they have yet to reach a definitive conclusion about 
the source of the funds.

Among the assets the general disclosed in his financial statements were 
"100,000 volumes of books," "savings in various financial institutions," 
royalties from books and real estate investments.

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