President Bush told Chilean President Ricardo Lagos there would be a "full investigation" into allegations that Riggs Bank helped former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet hide millions of dollars from international prosecutors.
Speaking after a White House meeting with Lagos, Bush said the issues raised in a Senate report issued last week will be investigated "in an open way."
"It's important for the facts to be 'en la mesa,' as we say -- on the table -- so that we know what course of action may or may not be needed," said Bush, who added that Lagos brought up the issue with him yesterday. Lagos last week told media in Chile that the government would investigate Pinochet's connection to Riggs with an eye toward finding out the sources of Pinochet's wealth.
The Senate report detailed Riggs's dealings with Pinochet since 1994. It said Riggs helped disguise or hide as much as $8 million when Pinochet was under house arrest in London and Spanish prosecutors had begun court proceedings to freeze his assets in the late 1990s. Riggs ultimately mailed or couriered much of Pinochet's millions back to him after he had returned to Chile, the report said.
-- Terence O'Hara