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Final hurdles may soon be cleared for Holocaust era claimants of bank assets

Some of the last remaining obstacles in the campaign by Holocaust survivors and their relatives to recover bank assets may soon be overcome.

Some of the last remaining obstacles in the campaign by Holocaust survivors and their relatives to recover bank assets may soon be overcome.

Switzerland's two biggest banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, say they have held talks with the United States judge responsible for implementing the payments under a settlement reached with the banks in August 1998.

The banks say much progress was made during this meeting, and that they hope to soon get final approval on the deal from judge Edward Korman.

"We hope that Korman, will give his final approval of the compromise by the end of this month," said Peter Widmer of Credit Suisse.

One of the issues holding up the process has been whether to allow the judge access to millions of accounts dating from 1933-45.

But once he gives his approval, agreement on the actual payments and distribution can be finalised. Jewish organisations are hoping Holocaust era claimants could start receiving payments this autumn.

The original global accord concluded in 1998 was worth $1.25 billion dollars. $582 million has already been paid by the banks into a central bank account in New York, ready for distribution.

"It seems that the interest of all parties is now aligned," said Christoph Meier of UBS. "Everyone wants the settlement to be approved, so that the money can be distributed to the victims."

However, some details still need to be worked out, such as a distribution plan and how the people entitled to payments will be identified.

swissinfo with agencies


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