Private banks advised to join Holocaust settlement
The Swiss Bankers Association has advised Switzerland's private banks to join the $1.25 billion (SFr2 billion) settlement deal between the country's largest banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, and holders of Holocaust-era accounts and their heirs.
Jacques Rossier, representative of the private banks at the Swiss Bankers Association, said: "I recommend that private banks accept the demands of the settlement."
At a presentation in Zurich, the Swiss Bankers Association and the two big banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, told cantonal and private banks about the fine print of the settlement.
It is up now to these banks individually to decide whether they will contribute towards the settlement, which will compensate holders of Holocaust-era accounts and their heirs.
Representatives of UBS and Credit Suisse also stressed that they would not fight the conditions of the settlement which were formulated by the United States district judge, Edward Korman. A spokesman for UBS said the banks "did not see any reason to appeal against the settlement" by the September deadline set by Korman.
Although no decisions were made at Wednesday's gathering, the Swiss Bankers Association said some representatives of the smaller and medium-sized banks indicated their interest in accepting the settlement.
Hansjörg Müntener of the Zurich cantonal bank - the third largest in Switzerland - said his bank "should follow the lead of UBS and Credit Suisse".
He added that the general feeling at the meeting had been positive and he expected the board of the Zurich cantonal bank to make a decision within a month.
Korman has warned that those banks not willing to join the settlement agreed by UBS and Credit Suisse face the risk of separate lawsuits.
Korman requested that banks wishing to join the settlement should provide free access to their archives. The settlement has been in force since August 9 and gives UBS and Credit Suisse immunity against class-action lawsuits.
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