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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Major U.S. Banks Aided Pinochet

WASHINGTON -- Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet used an intricate web of more than 100 U.S. bank accounts, including 63 with Citigroup, to hide and launder at least $15 million, a U.S. Senate report that was due out on Wednesday shows.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found Pinochet's use of the U.S. financial system to cloak his financial dealings extended far beyond his accounts at Riggs Bank, which has admitted to failing to report suspicious transactions and paid a criminal fine.

The Chilean strongman's activities also involved accounts at Banco de Chile and Espirito Santo Bank, the Senate subcommittee said. Related accounts and transactions were also found in at least five other banks, including Bank of America, it said.

None of the banks immediately returned calls for comment.

Most of the Pinochet accounts at Citigroup, the world's largest financial services company, were handled by Citibank Private Bank, the report said.

"New information shows that the web of Pinochet accounts in the U.S. was far more extensive, went on far longer, and involved more banks than was previously disclosed," said Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the panel's top Democrat.

"Some banks actively helped him hide his funds, others failed to comply with U.S. regulations requiring banks to know their customers," he said on Tuesday. The report shows Pinochet had the longest and closest link with Riggs, an involvement more extensive than once thought.

Instead of the nine accounts first reported, it involved 28 and spanned 25 years, not eight. Riggs, a unit of Riggs National Corp., also opened accounts for Chilean military officers that were used to funnel $1.7 million to Pinochet-linked accounts, the Senate subcommittee said.

The first related accounts at Citigroup were opened in 1981 and the company has identified 63 U.S. accounts and certificates of deposit opened for Pinochet and his family in New York and Miami between then and 2004, the Senate subcommittee said.

Of those, 15 were opened for Pinochet personally over 14 years with another 19 in the name of his family members.

Citigroup also helped family members arrange international wire transfers and establish offshore entities. The bank issued credit cards and made loans to several family members, the Senate investigation found.

More than 3,000 people died in political violence in the Pinochet era and tens of thousands more were tortured, imprisoned and exiled as the military suppressed opposition.