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End in sight for Holocaust-era claims on Swiss banks

Israel Singer (right), pictured here with Paul Volcker, says the issue of dormant accounts should soon be resolved

(Keystone Archive)

The secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Israel Singer, has welcomed the publication of a new list of dormant accounts relating to the Holocaust era. He told Swiss radio the issue was now close to being resolved.

Singer's comments on Tuesday followed the release of details of some 21,000 dormant Swiss bank accounts, which may have belonged to Holocaust victims.

He said the WJC and Switzerland's two biggest banks - UBS and Credit Suisse - were "working together 100 per cent", and that he expected the matter over Holocaust-era assets to shortly be resolved for good.

Singer had some harsh words, though, for Switzerland's smaller cantonal and private banks, which he said had so far failed to cooperate adequately in the search for dormant accounts.

He said too that he was not happy with the outcome of the matter of dormant accounts because most of victims were no longer alive.

Holocaust victims whose names appear on the list of dormant accounts in Swiss banks will be able to claim part of a $1.25 billion (SFr2 billion) settlement agreed between the banks and Jewish organisations.

The list forms part of a database containing a total of 36,000 names of account holders who have a "probable or possible" link with the Holocaust, according to the Volcker Committee, an independent panel headed by former United States federal reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, which worked with the banks in producing the list.

It is the third such list to be published since Swiss banks began to search their accounts in 1997 following the controversy over Holocaust-era assets.

Swissinfo learned on Monday that the names of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud appeared on the latest list, although it is not clear whether there are funds in these accounts, or why they were not closed.

swissinfo with agencies


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