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Banking documents Dormant asset files transferred to Swiss archives

The Federal Archives are based in Bern. They act as "memory" of the Swiss authorities

(Keystone)

The government has taken over copies of bank documents and asset statements which were part of evidence used by a tribunal set up to assess the claims of victims of Nazi persecution or their heirs against Swiss banks.

The Federal Archives said a section of the files used to examine the claims under a global settlement in 1998 were transferred to its premises to be catalogued by the end of this year.

"This is significant as it concerns an important chapter of recent Swiss history," says Simon Meyer of the Federal Archives.  

However, the general public has to wait to be able to access them under a 30-year statute of limitation.

The costs are shared by the Swiss banks and the Zurich-based Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT), according to a statement published on Thursday.

It took more than six years of negotiations to decide where the nearly 290 boxes of files will be stored.

A section of documents from the 1930s onward was moved to the Federal Archives in Bern. The remainder went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

1998 global settlement

In the late 1990s, a number of class action law suits against Swiss banks were filed with a court in New York. The plaintiffs accused the banks of withholding assets of Nazi victims from the Holocaust era.

In parallel with the class actions, the Swiss Bankers Association and two Jewish organisations in the United States agreed on a procedure for identifying Swiss bank accounts and their legal holders.

In 1998, the banks reached a settlement under which they paid $1.25 billion (CHF1.24 billion) into a fund. In return the claims were dropped.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch and agencies


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