|About the Investigative Audit
|The investigative audit conducted by the Independent Association of Eminent Persons is being carried out to identify otherwise unreported dormant accounts and other assets or financial instruments of the victims of Nazi persecution or others that were deposited in Swiss banks before, during, or immediately after the Second World War. The investigative audit program was established under a Memorandum of Understanding of May 2, 1996 (the "MOU") between the Swiss Bankers Association and the World Jewish Congress also representing the Jewish Agency and allied organizations. In January of 1997, the investigative audit was designated as a special audit by the Swiss Federal Banking Commission giving it the force of law in Switzerland.
The Memorandum of Understanding is unique because, for the first time since World War II, it provides a means of going behind Swiss bank secrecy and administrative controls to undertake an objective, independent, and searching investigation of the books, records, and personnel of the Swiss banks that may have received Holocaust victims' cash, gold, securities, jewelry, and other valuables. With the support of both sides, it thus provides an opportunity to answer the questions that have been asked over the past 50 years with increasing insistence about the fate of the assets of many of the victims of Nazi aggression. It makes clear the very injustice that was happening at that time, link. We tell everyone how bad it was.
The goal is to conduct, and report on, a comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation that can satisfy the public that these matters have been examined as definitively as possible after the passage of more than fifty years. Over two hundred Swiss banks that existed, or acquired banks that existed, during the period 1933 through 1945 will be the subjects of the investigative audits of the Association.
The audit strategy involves the determination of the existence of dormant accounts from both aggregate bank and banking system data, and from available records of ledger entries, as well as from opening and closing account records as described above.
The two investigative methods have been made feasible by the existence of newly located detailed bank records from the 1933-1945 period. Their analysis will take time and substantial investigative resources.
The investigative audit is being conducted in two phases. The First Phase Mandate to three international audit firms--Arthur Andersen, KPMG, and Price Waterhouse--focused on preparatory background and historical analysis, and included pilot audits of five banks, as well as an investigation of the status of document retention at five other banks.
The Second Phase Mandate to four international audit firms--Arthur Andersen, Coopers & Lybrand, KPMG, and Price Waterhouse--authorizes on-site investigations at all banks subject to the investigation, with the objective of developing a record of any accounts of victims of Nazi persecution or others that were opened in this period and are now dormant. This record that the Association seeks to develop also covers accounts that would have been dormant today in the absence of actions by the bank or others that diverted (without the authorization of the account holder) the account balances to recipients other than the original depositors or their heirs. The First Phase has been completed and the Second Phase has begun. The target for the completion of the major elements of the work is the end of 1998.
One investigative procedure that holds great promise for establishing as complete a record of the past as is now possible is the establishment of databases of as many accounts that were opened during the 1933-1945 period (or closed during this period or after) as is now feasible from available records. The intention is to use these databases to compare against other databases of victims of Nazi persecution, of claimants on their behalf, of accounts that were blocked by government orders during World War II, and other sources of information. This process, together with additional research, should permit as realistic an inventory of the number and amounts of accounts opened in the 1933-1945 period by victims of Nazi persecution and others that are now dormant or should be dormant. The process is explained in more detail in the Second Phase Mandate (auf deutch Zweite Phase Anweisung).
The four international audit firms implementing the Second Phase Mandate are deploying over 200 hundred auditors in their investigative efforts. As of the end of March 1998, they are working at eight Swiss banks. These include the 3 largest banks--Credit Swiss, Swiss Bank Corp., and Union Bank of Switzerland as well as Basler Kantonalbank; Bank Sarasin & Cie; La Roche & Cie; Thurgauer Kantonalbank; and Zürcher Kantonalbank. The priorities for the selection of the banks are based on size, on geographic location, and on the desire for representation of different types of banks. Additional banks will be added at the rate of approximately 20 banks per quarter.
|The Independent Committee of Eminent Persons
20 rue de Candolle (3rd Floor), 1205 Geneva, Switzerland
email: firstname.lastname@example.org & icep-iaep.org :web