17 May 2006

RIGGS BANK CASE: JUDGE CERDA SENDS TEAM TO U.S. TO TRACK BRIBES

(May 17, 2006) Judge Carlos Cerda has authorized a team of Chilean State prosecutors (CDE) to travel to the U.S. to investigate multiple bank accounts held by Chile’s former Dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet and his family at Barclays Bank PLC and Lehman Brothers. The authorization comes on the heels of new findings in the Riggs Bank case linking a number of military and civilians who worked with Gen. Pinochet in the 1990s to illegal payments for the sale of Chilean weaponry.

The team of prosecutors is specifically interested in 23 off-shore bank accounts opened at Barclays Bank and Lehman Brothers. Judge Cerda wants all of the records of transactions made by Gen. Pinochet and his family through these accounts.

Among the accounts listed by La Nación, Chile’s government news service, are Ashburton Limited, Trilateral International Trading, G.L.P. Limited, Tasker Investment Limited, Abanda Finance, Belview International Inc., Belview S.A., Eastview Finance S.A., Santa Lucía Trust, Pinochet Joint Miami TD, Cornwall Overseas Corp., Inversiones Cornwall S.A. Monex, Monex Agencia de Valores, Banco Monex, Monex Chile Trade Finance, Berthier Investments Inc, Némesis Holding Ltd., Lego Corporation, Marchill Investment.

The Riggs Bank case is an investigation into the approximately US$27 million that Pinochet channeled into secret bank accounts over a period of 25 years while he led the nation and its army. Gen. Pinochet was indicted on Nov. 22, 2005 on charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and falsifying documents, his wife and five children and daughter-in-law have all been indicted on similar charges (ST, Nov. 22, 2005).

The list of those accused of accepting bribes or receiving payments from Gen. Pinochet includes active-duty and retired military officials, two ex-directors of Chile’s Army Weapons factory (FAMAE) and two of Gen. Pinochet’s secretaries.

SOURCE: LA NACIÓN