HSBC to investigate Pinochet gold claims

26 October 2006

HSBC is to investigate claims that the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has a multimillion gold deposit in one of its bank accounts in Hong Kong, following recent media reports.

The bank told the BBC that initial investigations had suggested that it does not hold the former general's gold, although more information from Chilean authorities would be required for a further examination to be conducted.

"We've had no formal approach either from the Chilean government or the authorities in Hong Kong but, in light of the current media reports, we have started an investigation," a spokesman for HSBC told the BBC's news website.

"However, at present, we do not believe we hold gold or any other funds for General Pinochet, in Hong Kong or elsewhere."

Earlier this week, Chile's El Mercurio newspaper alleged that HSBC was holding around $160 million worth of gold bars for Mr Pinochet in a Hong Kong warehouse, claims that Chile's government is also due to investigate.

Mr Pinochet, who ruled Chile between 1973 and 1990, is currently being investigated for tax evasion and embezzlement.

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