Friday, September 24

Chile takes the first step towards the reopening of the investigation into the laundering of the Pinochet

The Supreme Court of Chile has unanimously and unreservedly accepted the request of the Spanish National Court for the Chilean justice to notify the defendants of the case of money laundering and lifting of assets of the family of the former dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) , whose reopening was advanced by in July.

The 34th Criminal Court of Santiago will be in charge of contacting the aforementioned: Banco de Chile, its president, Pablo Granifo, and, as subsidiary civil liable, its subsidiaries Banchile Corredores de Bolsa and Banchile Administradora General de Fondos.

After relatives of the victims of the former dictator demanded collaboration from the Chilean justice, the judicial cooperation validated by the highest court of that country will allow the case, which the Spanish Court ordered to reopen in a car of January 13, 2021, advance now in Madrid after being paralyzed since 2012.

The ruling of the Supreme Court, dated Monday, August 23, indicates that the arguments of the defense of Banco de Chile, represented by lawyer Raúl Tavolari, which pointed to a violation of public order if the request was fulfilled, ” they do not find sustenance “.

And it states: “What is intended is to make known the order issued last January thirteenth, emanating from the Spanish National Court, as soon as it decreed the unarchiving and reopening of the case, without any substantive pronouncement being recorded in the antecedents. that could affect the competence of the Chilean Courts and, in this way, national sovereignty or, where appropriate, public order, which is what would allow this Court to deny the international cooperation required in the framework of the criminal procedure that is about”.

The Chilean magistrates also mention the report of the judicial prosecutor Lya Cabello that emerged last week in which she recommended that they validate the warrant based on the Extradition and Judicial Assistance Treaty signed between both countries.

In addition, with a certain tone of caution, they recall that “compliance with letters rogatory or letters rogatory will not imply, ultimately, the recognition of the jurisdiction of the requesting court or the commitment to recognize the validity or to proceed with the execution of the sentence that I will dictate “.

Good news”

The resolution of January 13, 2021, which orders the reopening of the investigation in Spain, responds to an appeal presented by the President Allende Foundation chaired by the Spanish lawyer Joan Garcés, who since the early 1990s has fought in court in different cases against the dictator and his accomplices. The legal action against the Pinochet family and those close to it was launched in 2005 and extended against Banco de Chile in 2007.

The foundation represents more than 20,000 victims of torture, assassinations and forced disappearances, such as the Group of relatives of disappeared detainees (AFDD) and the Group of relatives of the politically executed (AFEP).

Alicia Lira, president of the latter group, applauds the pronouncement of the Supreme Court: “We greatly value the ruling. It is a contribution and progress towards the truth that they owe us so much criminally, socially and economically.”

According to her, “there is evidence that has not been investigated on the money laundering that the dictator Pinochet did with the resources that he looted during the dictatorship.” He says that this capital “belongs to Chile, to the victims, to the families and to this society.”

Josefina Llidó, sister of the Alicante priest Antoni Llidó, arrested and disappeared in 1974, is more skeptical: “This is good news, but we are used to justice being very slow and sometimes in breach of its duties. We have to keep demanding it.”

A successful precedent

According to sources close to the case, the facts and legal grounds of the Banco de Chile case “bear parallels” with the case of the US bank Riggs, now part of PNC Bank. A cause that began thanks to the investigation that the Investigations Committee of the United States Senate carried out after the arrest of the dictator, in October 1998. It was then that the millionaire secret bank accounts of the dictator became known that first involved the Bank Riggs and then to Banco de Chile.

The US case concluded in 2005 “with great success” for the National High Court, “without a known precedent,” the sources point out. After reaching an out-of-court settlement with the Fundación Presidente Allende, the owners of Riggs had to compensate the victims of Pinochet with more than eight million dollars “with money from their own pockets.” With this precedent in the imagination of the plaintiffs, the proceedings will now be resumed in the Central Court of Instruction No. 5 of Madrid.