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Supreme Court to seize $1.6 mn of ex-dictator’s assets

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Chile’s Supreme Court ordered the seizure of $1.6 million of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet’s assets on Friday, at the close of a trial related to the Riggs Bank corruption scandal.

Three retired military officers were also sentenced to four years of prison for “misappropriation of public funds,” the judiciary said in a ruling seen by AFP.

The corruption case came to light in 2004, two years before Pinochet died, with the revelation of around 100 bank accounts opened in the name of Pinochet and family members in the United States-based and now-defunct Riggs Bank and other financial institutions outside of Chile.

Friday’s ruling, which cannot be appealed, overturns a previous one that acquitted the army officers of helping Pinochet hide his fortune abroad and returned $4.8 million and 24 real estate properties seized from the former dictator’s family in an original 2004 court decision.

The Chilean investigation was launched after the discovery that Pinochet had hidden almost $20 million in a series of complex financial operations from 1981, using a number of false identities.

In 2005, Washington-based Riggs admitted to hiding Pinochet’s accounts and accepted a $16 million fine.

According to official statistics, around 3,200 people were killed or disappeared and 38,000 tortured during general Pinochet’s bloody 17-year dictatorship.

Despite being indicted and arrested several times for various crimes and murders, Pinochet died in December 2006 without ever having been convicted.

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