(Washington, D.C.) — A U.S. Senate report released last night shows that for 25 years former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet concealed a personal fortune stolen from the Chilean people, Human Rights Watch said today.
“Each new revelation about Pinochet’s hidden money reinforces the old saw about absolute power leading to absolute corruption,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director for Human Rights Watch. “Pinochet has secured his place in history alongside the likes of Somoza and Noriega — dictators whose brutality was matched only by their duplicity and greed.”
Senate investigators discovered 128 bank accounts in the United States held by Pinochet, members of his family and military entourage and by offshore shell corporations he controlled. The former dictator often used aliases to open the accounts, including ten different combinations of his first names and surnames. Other accounts were held by military officers belonging to Pinochet’s inner circle and were used as occasional conduits for his money.
The investigators were unable to calculate the exact amount of the money moved through the accounts. Some estimates put it in the region of $19 million. In addition, tax authorities in Chile are investigating Pinochet for undeclared income amounting to more than $17 million.
“This report confirms that Pinochet was not only ruthless in dealing with the political opposition in Chile. With the help of compliant banks in the United States, he consistently deceived even his most fervent supporters at home,” Vivanco said.