Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Thursday, July 2, 1998 Published at 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK


World

New York's sanctions on Swiss banks

Talks between Swiss banks and US officials broke down

New York City and state officials said on Thursday they will begin imposing sanctions on Swiss banks in 60 days unless the banks reach a settlement on the issue of unreturned assets of holocaust victims.

The announcement from senior New York officials came after a commission cleared the way for states across America to declare such sanctions.

Increasing pressure

New York's sanctions are intended to apply gradually, increasing pressure on the Swiss banks to try to force them to negotiate with the descendants of holocaust victims.

Unless negotiations begin in the next couple of months, the first sanctions will come into effect on 1 September, barring short-term investments with Swiss banks.

On 15 November, the actions would be extended to other Swiss financial services, and on 1 January,1999, to all Swiss companies.

The sanctions are potentially damaging as New York has almost $200bn in state and city pension funds invested in Swiss banks.

California has already said it will not seek new contracts with subsidiaries of Swiss banks.

The State Treasurer in California, which has about $2bn on deposit in Swiss banks, said his state would announce some form of action on Thursday, but did not give details.

The US Federal Government is opposed to such sanctions.

Swiss outrage


Credit Suisse Spokesman Paul Rhyn downplays sanction impact
Switzerland's two largest banks, Credit Suisse and UBS, expressed outrage at the decision.

The banks issued a statement calling the sanctions unwarranted, counter-productive, unconstitutional and illegal. They said the banks would not be pressured into paying exorbitant and unwarranted sums of money that they claimed bore no relation to the facts.


[ image: The Swiss government is to lodge a complaint with the US]
The Swiss government is to lodge a complaint with the US
The Swiss Government has said it will file a complaint with the US Government, arguing that the sanctions violate global trade rules.

The Swiss banks have so far failed to reach agreement with groups representing the relatives of holocaust victims over the question of compensation.

Jewish organisations are seeking $1.5bn to cover all claims by relatives and descendants of holocaust victims, who say the banks retained family assets.

The banks however have offered only $600m.

American finance officials have been threatening to impose sanctions on Swiss banks for several months, but they postponed taking action until the banks had considered the $1.5bn settlement proposed by the Jewish groups.

The decision by the committee of finance officials to go ahead with the action came after the World Jewish Congress dropped its objection to sanctions.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia


Relevant Stories

02 Jul 98 | World
Swiss banks face sanctions

19 Jun 98 | Europe
Jewish groups attack Swiss offer

02 Jun 98 | Americas
Neutral countries 'helped Nazis'

04 Dec 97 | Nazi Gold
The greatest theft in history





Internet Links

California government

Credit Suisse

UBS

World Jewish Congress

World Jewish Restitution Organisation


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named