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New list of dormant accounts made public

Victims of the Nazis will be able to search the new list for details of their dormant accounts

(swissinfo.ch)

Details of 21,000 dormant Swiss bank accounts possibly belonging to Holocaust victims have been published. Holders of the accounts, or their heirs, will be able to claim part of a $1.25 billion (SFr2 billion) settlement agreed between Swiss banks and Jewish organisations.

A spokesman for the Swiss Bankers Association, James Nason, said the list of 21,000 accounts, which has been published on the Internet (address below), would help potential claimants to identify dormant accounts, which were held in Switzerland by Jewish victims of the Nazis.

The list was due to have been made available at the end of January, but publication was delayed because of technical problems.

Nason told swissinfo that the latest list of 21,000 accounts differs from two earlier published lists in that it concerns mainly "closed accounts".

"The earlier lists were of accounts that were still open but dormant - that is, there had been no news of the account holder since 1945... The new list relates mainly to accounts that are technically described as 'closed - unknown by whom'. And there are no records containing the circumstances of their closing.

"The Swiss banks say there is no evidence that these accounts were closed other than in the course of normal business. The Jewish groups say that some of these accounts were closed and the money was paid out to unauthorised people."

The list forms part of a database containing a total of 36,000 names of account holders who have a "probable or possible" link with the Holocaust, according to the Volcker Committee, an independent panel which worked with the banks in producing the list.

It is the third such list to be published since Swiss banks began to search their accounts in 1997 following the controversy over Holocaust-era assets. In theory, it should bring the matter to a close, but banks have been under increasing pressure to open up their entire databases of 4.1 million accounts which were open between 1933 and 1945.

Nason said the banks had agreed to make their databases available for scrutiny by certain groups.

"The main worry is that, among the 4.1 million accounts, there may be some accounts opened by Holocaust victims but using a Swiss name or Swiss address or a Swiss intermediary.

"This is the main reason access was sought to the 4.1 million accounts. And for that specific search all the banks have agreed to make their relevant portion of the database available."

swissinfo


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