Jewish group wants reward for former Swiss security guard

Former Swiss bank guard Christoph Meili with his wife Giuseppina. Keystone / AP PHOTO / Mike Derer

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) says it is in favour of rewarding a former security guard, Christoph Meili, who was sacked after rescuing files relating to the Holocaust era from one of Switzerland's biggest banks.

This content was published on September 19, 2000 - 12:12

It said Meili should get financial compensation from the $1.25 billion (SFr2 billion) accord between Swiss banks and Jewish groups to settle claims relating to dormant accounts from the Holocaust era.

Meili was praised as a hero by some United States officials after taking files from the Swiss Banking Corporation, which later merged with the Union Bank of Switzerland to form UBS.

The files dating from the Second World War period were destined for the shredder, at a time when pressure was growing on Swiss banks to come clean about their Holocaust era record.

The WJC's executive-director, Elan Steinberg, said: "We certainly support an award to Christoph Meili from the bank settlement in recognition of his courageous and selfless act."

Steinberg declined to comment on the size of the award, which would have to be set by the courts.

After taking the files in January 1997, Meili lost his job as a security guard and Zurich prosecutors opened an investigation into whether he had broken banking secrecy laws by make the documents public.

The case was later dropped, but Meili said it contributed to driving him out of the country. He and his family emigrated to the US, where he was awarded a green card by a special act of Congress in 1998.

Meili had also sued the bank for contributing to hound him out of Switzerland, but his lawyer says he has now dropped the law suit.

swissinfo with agencies

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