Mar. 30, 2005 – A Washington-based bank that a federal judge openly condemned as a "henchman of dictators" agreed on Tuesday to a $16 million fine for "failing to report its suspicious transactions with foreigners," including US-backed Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Riggs Bank entered a guilty plea in late January of this year after Justice Department officials laid out a case detailing the bankâ€™s pursuit of foreign clients and its willingness to bend or break rules in order to secure high rolling -- and highly controversial -- customers.
US District Judge Ricardo Urbina, who ruled on the agreement between the Justice Department and Riggs, wondered back in January whether "the fine was merely the cost of doing business" for the bank, which the holds billions of dollars in assets.
Among the relationships cultivated by Riggs was Pinochet, who oversaw a reign of terror that left thousands murdered, maimed, or "disappeared" after deposing Salvador Allende in 1972 with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency.