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Swiss government shrugs off Apartheid lawsuit

US lawyer Ed Fagan with Dorothy Molef, the mother of 1976 Soweto uprising victim, Hector Petersen, on June 17 in Zurich


The Swiss government has refused to comment on a lawsuit against Swiss banks over their dealings with South Africa's Apartheid regime.

The lawsuit was filed in New York last week against Switzerland's two biggest banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, along with the American bank, Citicorp.

It seeks class-action compensation from the banks, which are accused of propping up the Apartheid government by continuing to lend it money after 1985, when international sanctions were imposed on South Africa.

The Swiss cabinet discussed the matter at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, but government spokesman Achille Casanova said it was not up to the government to comment on such a suit.

"However," he added, "the government believes that this kind of class action suit before a US court is not the right way to resolve the political problems of other countries," he said.

At the centre of the lawsuit is the US-based lawyer Ed Fagan, who previously won a case on behalf of Holocaust victims who received $1.25 billion from Swiss banks and corporations.

The two German banks, Dresdner Bank and Deutsche Bank, as well as the US computer company IBM could be the next targets of the lawsuit, according to the South African attorney, Gugulethu Madlanga.

swissinfo with agencies

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