Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Did Pinochet Hide US$180 million in gold in H.Kong?

According to a report by the South China Morning Post, on Wednesday, October 25, the Hong Kong financial authorities confirmed that it has begun an investigation in order to verify whether General Augusto Pinochet, the ruler of Chile from 1973 to 1990, did deposit 1000 gold ingots in a vault at the local Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).

In Chile, “La Nacion” a local newspaper reported that the Chilean State Defense Council (CDE in the spanish acronym) had presented a demand in court to confiscate the 9,000 kilograms of gold valued at approximately US$180 million. The CDE has been carrying out legal actions against Pinochet after the discovery in 2004 of USS 23 million in secret accounts at the Riggs Bank in Washington D.C. Due to the scandal, in 2005 the Riggs Bank, known as the “bank of the Diplomats” since nearly all the embassies in the American capital had their accounts at that institution , merged with the PNC Bank. According to the CDE, the Riggs Bank was used by Pinochet to deposit large amounts of money under false identities.The CDE believes that Pinochet also has more secret accounts in many other parts of the world, as may be the case in Hong Kong.According to La Nacion, since the news originated in Hong Kong, it was the local authorities that informed the Chilean embassy that Pinochet had deposited the lingots in that Asian city. Chile´s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alejandro Foxley confirmed this version by stating that “we received this information through one of our diplomatic offices abroad. We gave all this information to the CDE.” At present, the Chilean Court has confiscated several of Pinochet’s bank deposits and properties, such as his vacation home in the outskirts of Santiago, the capital, valued at several million dollars.

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