Joe Lewis Allbritton, a US media mogul and owner of the scandal-plagued Riggs National Bank, has died at a hospital in Houston, Texas, aged 87. Allbritton died on Wednesday of heart ailments, said Jerald Fritz, a senior vice-president of Allbritton Communications. His media empire included newspapers throughout the US Northeast and ABC network affiliates. Allbritton's son, Robert, recently founded the influential political publication Politico. But Joe Allbritton, a Mississippi native, was most famous for owning and running Riggs, the Washington-based bank that had been a dominant force in diplomatic banking. Allbritton's banking career was tarnished when it was revealed that Riggs bank failed to report suspicious activity in the accounts held by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Equatorial Guinea officials. In 1997, Allbritton wrote to Pinochet: "I am pleased to report the business relationship between Riggs and the Chilean military is prospering. I am also grateful for our thriving personal friendship, which you have demonstrated through your gracious hospitality and stalwart support of the Riggs. "You have rid Chile from the threat of totalitarian government and an archaic economic system based on state-owned property and centralised planning." Riggs bank pleaded guilty in 2005 to violating anti-money laundering laws and was fined a total of US$41 million. Allbritton and his wife Barbara often socialised with presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and their wives. Former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement: "I will miss his great sense of humour." Allbritton is survived by his wife, son and two grandchildren.