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Report: Contractor Paid Pinochet $1.8M

September 15, 2005

LONDON (AP) _ Europe’s largest defense contractor, BAE Systems PLC, has paid more than $1.8 million to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, The Guardian newspaper reported Thursday.

The Guardian alleged that three companies linked to the 89-year-old, who seized power in a military coup in 1973, were named in legal documents compiled by Chilean authorities as having received payments from the defense firm.

The newspaper claimed that a series of payments, totaling $2,098,841 were made between December 1997 and June 2004.

Responding to the report, BAE Systems cited its Corporate Responsibility report which says: ``Employees are required to act with honesty, integrity and fairness. We will not tolerate bribery or other attempts to improperly influence the decisions of customers or suppliers.″

The Guardian said its report was developed in cooperation with the Chilean daily newspaper La Tercera.

Pinochet led a bloody military coup to take power in 1973 and went on to govern for 17 years. During that time, 3,197 people were killed for political reasons, according to an official report prepared by the civilian government that succeeded Pinochet in 1990. More than 1,000 others, who remain unaccounted for, are presumed to have been murdered after being picked up by Pinochet’s security forces.

The Guardian said the documents, including U.S. bank statements, showed payments had been made to Pinochet-linked groups by BAE Systems and another company listed as Red Diamond Trading, which the newspaper claimed was a front company set up by a discreet subdivision of the arms trader.

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