[Marxism] China gave millions to Pinochet
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
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
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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