He left everything he had to his family, with 62.5 percent going to his widow Lucia Hiriart, 25 percent going to his five children, Lucia, Augusto, Veronica, Marco Antonio and Jacqueline and the remaining 12.5 percent to their children and grandchildren. But what that legacy consists of is still a mystery. General Augusto Pinochet’s will was opened in a Santiago court on Wednesday, and officials hoping to learn more about the suspiciously large fortune he accumulated found no information about his property, goods or bank accounts.
“The will makes reference to a distribution of goods without specifying anything registered under the name of Augusto Pinochet,” notary Humberto Quezada told reporters.
Five years ago Pinochet’s widow, children and several associates were indicted on charges of misappropriating at least $20 million from government funds and all but Lucia Hiriart (who was rushed to a military hospital) spent two days in prison. The charges were later dropped when the prosecuting judge retired from the case. But it isn’t over yet. While the Pinochet family did not want the will opened at all, the Chilean Defense Council of State hopes to recover any illegally obtained funds from the estate. Last April a court opened what was supposed to be Pinochet’s last will, signed shortly before his death in 2006, but that document contained only a statement changing his executor. This earlier version of the will, signed after Pinochet was released from detention in London, was drawn up in 2000.
So what now? Authorities say they will continue to investigate.
Some of the multiple identities Pinochet used to open accounts at U.S. banks, uncovered by a U.S. Senate investigation into money laundering.
It was something of an anticlimax, the opening of General Augusto Pinochet’s last will and testament. Officials from Chile’s state defence council were hoping it might shed light on the size of the late dictator’s fortune and where he might have stashed it.
In 2005 a U.S. Senate money laundering investigation discovered that Pinochet, his family and associates had an extensive network of over 125 bank accounts and securities in the Riggs Bank and other U.S. financial institutions to move millions of dollars (http://www.levin.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/supporting/2005/pinochetreport.pdf).
The U.S. Senate report prompted the Chilean Supreme Court to conduct its own investigation, which revealed that Pinochet had at least $21 million at the time of his death in 2006, but only $3 million could be explained by his earnings as head of state and army commander.
Pinochet is known to have drawn up his will in 2000, following his release from detention in Britain. A newer version of the will was drawn up in 2005, and this is what was opened in a Santiago court, in the presence of a notary and two witnesses, both friends of the Pinochet family. But the document’s contents only changed the executor, from Oscar Aitken—whom the U.S. Senate report describes as Pinochet’s financial advisor and conduit for questionable payments—to one Julia Hormazabal. There was nothing about beneficiaries or legacies.
So now authorities are seeking the original will, drawn up in 2000 following his return to Santiago after his detention in London. Stay tuned.