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Holocaust lawyer wants more money

Holocaust lawyer Ed Fagan wants more than $300,000 Keystone

Four years after a SFr1.87 billion ($1.25 billion) settlement between Swiss banks, Holocaust survivors and their heirs, the legal bills are finally being settled.

Holocaust lawyer Ed Fagan is said to want more than the $300,000 he has been offered.

The United States district judge, Edward Korman, gave the go-ahead for the payouts in New York on Monday.

However, some of the lawyers who represented Holocaust victims in their class action lawsuits are reportedly contesting the sums they’re being offered.

Fagan and Robert Swift, who wants more than the recommended $1.25 million, are both said to be pushing for more money.

Burt Neuborne, the lead lawyer in the settlement case, said the two men are expected to meet Korman next month to discuss the settlement. Fagan had claimed $4 million for his part in the settlement.

Human rights

Partners Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein are expected to receive the biggest sum of $1.6 million.

The law firm says it is giving almost all of the money ($1.5 million) to Columbia University in New York to establish a chair of human rights.

The firm of Burger and Montague is scheduled to receive $1.1 million. The lawyer who represented Gypsy plaintiffs, Barry Fisher, is set to receive $300,000.

Neuborne and his two colleagues, Michael Hausfeld and Mel Weiss, said at the beginning of the legal process that they were prepared to act for nothing.

Neuborne added that legal fees – representing only 0.5 per cent of the total settlement – are among the lowest ever paid out for this type of lawsuit.

Former security guard

Meanwhile, the former Swiss security guard, Christoph Meili, who prevented the destruction of pre-Second World War archive material when he was working at UBS, has already received $600,000.

In total, he is expected to receive $1 million, which is part of an agreement to withdraw a lawsuit against the bank.

Meili left Switzerland with his family for the United States in 1997 after losing his job and allegedly receiving death threats.

In August 1998, Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse and Jewish groups agreed the $1.25 billion settlement over Holocaust-era assets.

Some $800 million is being used to compensate the holders of dormant bank account and their heirs, with the rest intended for other victims of the Nazis such as forced labourers and repatriated refugees.

Apartheid case

Fagan found himself back in the spotlight in June when he launched a fresh assault on Swiss banks, claiming “multi-billion dollar” compensation for the victims of South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

The lawyer claims Swiss banks aided the Apartheid regime during the 1980s by propping up the country’s debt.

But the South African organisation representing victims – Jubilee 2000 – broke with Fagan shortly afterwards, saying it disapproved of his methods.

Lawyers representing the Swiss bank, UBS, have accused Fagan of using the court proceedings as a publicity campaign.

swissinfo with agencies

Swiss banks and Jewish plaintiff groups reached an agreement over Holocaust-era assets in 1998.
The settlement fund is worth $1.25 billion.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR