The chairman of the House Banking Committee told six major banks yesterday that large loans they reportedly made to the military dictatorship in Chile "are not helpful" to U.S. human rights policy.
Rep. Henry S. Reuss (D-Wis.) sent telegrams to the banks noting that their actions "appear inconsistent" with standards intended to prevent banking practices from interfering with the public interest. He concluded: "I hope you will give the American people a full explanation."
An independent study published Tuesday said the banks - Bankers Trust of New York, Chemical Bank of New York, the Wells Fargo Bank of San Francisco, Citicorp of New York, Morgan Guaranty Trust of New York and First Chicago - had arranged loans totaling $560 million to President Augusto Pinochet's Chilean regime.
The study, written by Michael Moffitt and Isabel Letelier, charged that the Pinochet government has obtained almost $1 billion in private U.S. bank loans since it came to power in a bloody 1973 coup.
Because of these loans, the study asserted, the Carter administration has been hampered in trying to pressure Chile into human rights reforms by blocking Chilean access to U.S. foreign aid and help from international lending agencies.
Moffitt and Letelier did their study for the Institute for Policy Studies, a private, Washington-based research organization. Their spouses, Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the United States, and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, an institute employe, were killed here in 1976 when a bomb exploded in their car.