The New York judge who recently approved a global settlement between Swiss banks and Holocaust survivors has officially put the accord into effect.
Judge Edward Korman issued a "Final Order and Judgement" regarding the deal on the Internet on Thursday.
Two weeks ago, Korman had approved the terms of a long awaited $1.25 billion (SFr2 billion) settlement, compensating survivors or relatives of Holocaust victims for funds blocked in Switzerland since the Nazi era.
Switzerland's two main banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, had agreed to the terms with the lawyers for plaintiffs in August 1998. The settlement means that the money will soon be disbursed among about 600,000 claimants. A plan for the distribution of the compensatory money will be drawn up between now and September, but the two banks will not have a say in the matter.
On Thursday, a spokesman for Credit Suisse, Paul Rhyn, said the bank was glad the funds could finally go to the people deserving the compensation, and added: "As far as we are concerned, nothing has changed since July 26". The reaction from UBS was similar. Spokesman Christoph Meier said "Judge Korman's verdict puts a final seal on the affair".
In his ruling, Korman had said, "I have no quarrel with this settlement. I do not say it is fair, because fairness is a relative term. No amount of money can possibly be fair under these circumstances."
The claimants said they or their relatives deposited the funds in Swiss banks as a safe haven during the wartime era, but were unable to retrieve the money and other goods after the war.
The Volcker commission, investigating the issue of dormant accounts, concluded last year that up to 54,000 may have been opened in Swiss banks by Holocaust victims. It cleared the banks of systematically destroying the records of victims' accounts, but said there was evidence of "deceitful actions by some banks".
swissinfo and agencies
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