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Holocaust asset claimants a step closer to restitution

One 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, are hoping to get final approval this month on an apparent compromise deal reached with a United States judge. They are reportedly proposing to provide access to at least two million Nazi-era accounts, half the number requested by an independent commission.

Once this issue is resolved, agreement on the actual payments and distribution can be finalised. Peter Widmer of Credit Suisse, said, "We hope that Judge Edward Korman, [the US judge responsible for implementing the deal], will give his final approval of the compromise by the end of this month."

Jewish organisations have already expressed their satisfaction with the compromise, and are hoping Holocaust era claimants could start receiving payments this autumn.

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

Christoph Meier, of UBS, said, "It seems that the interest of all parties is now aligned. 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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