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Holocaust survivors encouraged to claim part of $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks

Judge Korman presided over the 1998 settlement between Swiss banks and Jewish groups Keystone Archive

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany have reinforced their message to Holocaust survivors and their heirs to claim part of the $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks for unclaimed wartime wealth.

The president of the organisation, Rabbi Israel Miller, launched an initiative to raise awareness of some survivors’ rights to claim.

“People can make claims now” he said, speaking from Tel Aviv. He added that his group would seek applicants in 44 countries.

His words came after it was revealed that Holocaust survivors and their heirs may have to wait longer than expected for their share of a settlement reached between Swiss banks and Jewish organisations in 1998.

This is because a court in New York decided to put back an appeal hearing by opponents of the settlement, which was originally scheduled for June 25.

The court is waiting to hear six major appeals and a new date has not yet been set for the hearing. It is however mooted that claimants will have to wait until the end of the summer before they will see any of their money.

Switzerland’s two biggest banks – UBS and Credit Suisse – agreed the $1.25 billion (SFr2.14 billion) deal with the World Jewish Congress to settle the claims of Holocaust survivors who held assets in Switzerland during the Second World War.

The settlement brought an end to three years of difficult negotiations, and contributed to a marked improvement in relations between Switzerland and the United States.

The Holocaust Survivors Claims Resolution Tribunal is expected to shortly announce the names of four agencies who will be charged with distributing the Swiss money to account holders around the world.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR