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Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK


World: Americas

Argentina 'held Nazi gold'

Researchers say they have new evidence of Nazi dealings

Argentina's central bank stands accused of holding Nazi gold after World War II.

Researchers investigating the activities of the Nazis in Argentina say they have obtained a letter signed by the country's former foreign minister, saying he asked for the gold to be deposited in the bank in 1946.

Until then, the money was being held for the Germans by the Swiss embassy in Buenos Aires.

"For the first time we do have Argentine evidence that Argentina was the recipient of Nazi gold," said Ignacio Klich, research co-ordinator of the commission of inquiry on Nazi activities in Argentina.

Nazi asylum

The letter was written in 1955, shortly after the overthrow of Juan Domingo Peron - the populist leader who gave asylum to a number of high-profile Nazi war criminals fleeing prosecution.

The commission of inquiry was created by the government in 1997, in response to accusations that some of the Nazi gold looted from Jewish victims of the Holocaust might have been transferred to Argentina.

The commission's historians have yet to ascertain the amount of the Nazi gold deposited in the central bank, and also lack proof that it was taken from Holocaust victims.

But proof that the gold was looted or formed part of a money-laundering operation would bring Argentina closer to the current debate over reparations to the victims of Nazi Germany.



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