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Friday, August 7, 1998 Published at 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK


Britain accused of seizing £400m from Jews

Holocaust victims at Auschwitz

Britain stands accused of confiscating up to £400m at today's values from Jews who put money into Palestine bank accounts.

An investigation is now underway in Israel into claims that money deposited in the country's banks by European Jews before World War II was later seized by Britain.

The chairman of the Israeli parliament's banking sub-committee, Yona Yahav, called the affair a "scandalous cover-up which has lasted half a century".

Most of the depositors died in the Holocaust before they could escape from Europe.

But some of their heirs are expected to make claims for compensation.

Mr Yahav said early inquiries suggested millions of pounds were deposited before the war in what was then the Anglo-Palestine Bank.

The money came from Jews living in countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary which supported Nazi Germany.

Britain held the mandate for Palestine until 1948 and the accounts were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Under a treaty of 1950, Britain paid the newly-born state of Israel a million pounds in respect of the confiscated assets.

But Mr Yahav said none of this was returned to the rightful owners.

He has raised the matter with Lord Archer QC who is responsible for how the claims for war assets will be determined.

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