In Dicta

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Investigating Pinochet's Miami bank accounts

"Four Miami banks could be forced to turn over client documents and make employees available for questioning if a Miami federal judge approves a request by Chilean authorities who are investigating "fraud, corruption, kickbacks and conspiracy" allegations against that nation's former president, Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Chile's office of the attorney general -- Consejo de Defensa del Estado -- asked the U.S. District Court in Miami late last month to order the banks to cooperate. The institutions are Espirito Santo Bank; Banco de Chile's office in Miami; PNC Corp., which in May bought the troubled Riggs International Banking Corp.; and Banco Santander International, which in 2003 bought the Coutts & Co.

Chilean investigators are also seeking authority to depose Miami international banker Edgar W. Tatman, who from the early 1980s to 1991 administered alleged Pinochet accounts at Riggs International, the McLean, Va.-based bank that came under federal scrutiny over its management of accounts belonging to foreign diplomats and other officials. Riggs maintained a Miami office that is now closed."

The banks should undoubtedly be forced to turn over this information. This investigation into this money, stolen by a ruthless dictator and deposited in American banks, should be given all the backing necessary.



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