22 May 2006

NEW DOCUMENTS SHED LIGHT ON RIGGS BANK CASE

(May 22, 2006) An unknown man delivered a series of bank statements and personal letters to Chile’s police last December that detail the involvement of Gen. Ricardo Izurieta, Chile’s former commander in chief, in the Riggs Bank case. The letters were made public for the first time in El Mercurio on Sunday and suggest that Gen. Izurieta served as a go-between for former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet and the President of the Riggs Bank in Washington, Joseph L. Allbritton.

According to Sunday’s El Mercurio, Chile’s Investigations Police received an anonymous phone call in December claiming to have information about the Riggs Bank case. Police officials set up a meeting in Santiago’s Apumanque Mall where an unidentified man handed a police representative a manila envelope then disappeared before he could be identified.

Inside the manila envelope was a 1995 bank statement from the Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C. sent by the then military attaché in Washington, D.C. Gen. Izurieta advising Gen. Pinochet on the state of his bank accounts. Also included in the package were two personal letters between the Riggs Bank President Allbritton and Izurieta that demonstrate the close relationship between the two men.

The Riggs Bank case is an investigation into the approximately US$27 million that Gen. Pinochet laundered while dictator and commander in chief of Chile between 1973 and 1998. Gen. Pinochet was indicted on Nov. 22, 2005 on charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and falsifying documents, his wife and five children have also been indicted in the case.

Gen. Pinochet was forced to step down in 1998 after he was detained in London on charges of human rights abuse. Gen. Izurieta was named to replace Pinochet as commander in chief of the military. Included in the package given to the police is a fax sent by Allbritton congratulating Izurieta on his promotion.

Investigators in the Riggs Bank case have already questioned Gen. Izurieta about his knowledge of the illegal bank accounts but no charges have been filed against him.

SOURCE: EL MERCURIO