ITWASSOOTED: Defunct Riggs bank snares the Pinochets

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Defunct Riggs bank snares the Pinochets

Pinochet's daughter returns to face Chile charges
Sat Jan 28, 2006 1:58 PM ET

By Pav Jordan

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - The eldest daughter of former dictator Augusto Pinochet was taken into custody on Saturday upon her return to Chile after seeking asylum in the United States to avoid tax charges.

A federal judge greeted a tired Lucia Pinochet Hiriart, 60, as she arrived from Buenos Aires, where she made a brief stopover after being sent back from Washington late Friday.

"Ms. Lucia, how nice that you've arrived, please come with me so that I can arraign you," Judge Carlos Cerda, who is handling the tax case against the Pinochet family, told her as she came off the plane.

Pinochet Hiriart, dressed in a light pink shirt and cream pants, was then taken to a detention center in downtown Santiago where she will be held until a decision is made on bail.

"She was read her rights," Alejandro Tisely, a top police official, told reporters. "Later she will meet with Judge Cerda."

She had fled Chile for neighboring Argentina by car on January 22, a day before her mother and four siblings were arrested on charges of tax evasion and fraud. They have since been released on bail.

She then flew to Washington, where she was detained at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday and requested political asylum.

Pinochet Hiriart withdrew her asylum request on Friday, and U.S. officials ordered her to return to Argentina -- the last country she was in before she arrived in Washington.

"There was so much being said about me in Chile that I preferred to come and show my face and clear the air," Pinochet Hiriart said when she was asked why she withdrew her asylum request.

Pinochet Hiriart has been charged in Chile with tax fraud related to about $1 million in undeclared taxes and falsification of documents in a widening tax evasion and fraud investigation involving the Pinochet family.

The accounts came to light after a U.S. Senate investigation of banking irregularities at the now-defunct Riggs Bank, based in Washington.linkfrauds
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