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The BBC's Claire Doole
"It's the biggest financial audit in history"
 real 28k

Monday, 6 December, 1999, 06:38 GMT
Swiss banks to unveil Holocaust assets
victims Details of victims' assets will be published on the internet

The results of a three-year investigation into accusations that Swiss banks hoarded the money of Holocaust victims are set to be made public on Monday.

Up to 650 international accountants have combed through the records of 54 Swiss banks in search of accounts opened while the Nazis held power in Germany from 1933 to 1945.

The BBC's Claire Doole in Geneva says it is understood that the accountants have found tens of thousands of accounts which have lain dormant since World War II - but the question is how many of those belong to Nazi victims.

auschwitz Relatives of death camp victims were said to have been denied access to assets
The exact sum of money turned up is a matter of speculation because many accounts were long since closed and contained nothing.

However some reports said the assets could total between $650m and $1.3bn.

The audit committee, headed by the former United States Central Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, is set to publish the account names on the internet so that relatives of Holocaust victims can file claims.

The amount of money in each account will be multiplied by 10 to cover interest and will be paid out of a $1.25bn fund set up last year after the banks admitted that they had secretly helped the Nazis.

The rest of the money will go to Jewish class action claimants and their lawyers, whose pressure on the banks led to the settlement.

However the first pay-out will not be made until late next year - some 55 years after the end of World War II.


We are ready to accept criticism where it is justified
Swiss Bankers' Association
The Volcker report will also be commenting on the banks' treatment of many descendants of Nazi death camp victims who were refused access to money left by their relatives.

Our correspondent says the banks hope the report will draw a line under Switzerland's tarnished war-time past.

The umbrella Swiss Bankers' Association said it was expecting the report of the Volcker commission - whose members were selected by the bankers and by Jewish organisations - to give a comprehensive and fair analysis of Swiss banks' behaviour toward victims of Nazi persecution.

"We are ready to accept criticism where it is justified," said chief executive officer Niklaus Blattner.

He added that the bankers were confident that the overall picture "will not be a negative one".

Refugees

The Volcker report is the first of two major studies to be published this week on Swiss treatment of Holocaust victims both during and after World War II.

On Friday, a panel of historians from Switzerland, Israel and the United States are due to release an 800-page report which is expected to be highly critical of Switzerland's treatment of refugees from Nazi-held areas before and during the war.

The number of Jews allowed to enter has previously been reported to have been 27,000, but Swiss officials have acknowledged that 30,000 others were turned back - to almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis.

The panel, led by Lausanne history professor Jean-Francois Bergier, has been examining Switzerland's links with the Third Reich since 1996.

It published a preliminary report last May focusing on what happened to Holocaust victims' gold. A final report from the panel is expected towards the end of 2001.

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See also:
30 Jun 99 |  World
Holocaust fund appeals for Nazi victims
03 Jul 98 |  Europe
Swiss banks and Jewish gold
02 Jul 98 |  World
Swiss banks face sanctions
12 Aug 98 |  Americas
Nazi victims agree $1bn deal
21 Aug 98 |  Europe
Swiss National Bank criticised on Nazi gold

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