FOR RELEASE AT 12:00 P.M.
December 6, 1999
The Independent Committee of Eminent Persons released its Report on Dormant Accounts of Victims of Nazi Persecution in Swiss Banks today in Zurich, Switzerland. The Report is the culmination of an unprecedented three-year investigation that has thoroughly examined the conduct of the Swiss banking system over a 66-year period concerning these accounts.
The Committee was unanimous in supporting the findings and conclusions of the Report. It is chaired by Mr. Paul A. Volcker, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, and is made up of 3 members and 2 alternates appointed by the Swiss Bankers Association, and the same number appointed by the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the World Jewish Congress (and Allied Organizations).
One major focus of the investigation was the identification of accounts that have a probable or possible relationship to victims of Nazi persecution. The accounts so identified as "probably or possibly" related to a victim vary widely in the degree of probability attached to them, and there is now no way of determining the number of accounts that will be claimed or that will be recognized for payment by the claims resolution process. Bearing these considerations in mind, 54,000 accounts were identified as probably or possibly related to victims. These identified accounts are the result of a careful review of some 4.1 million accounts out of 6.8 million accounts that are estimated to have existed in the 1933-45 period, leaving some 2.7 milllion accounts for which there was no surviving documentation and a gap that may have contained some victim accounts that cannot now be identified.
With respect to the claims resolution process, the Committee recommended that:
On another major focus of the investigation, the question of the treatment of the accounts of victims of Nazi persecution by Swiss banks, the Committee has concluded that:
In the area of potentially looted assets and accounts of possible intermediaries of Holocaust victim beneficiaries, where evidence is particularly difficult to develop, the information identified on these matters during the investigation derived from matching and other forensic techniques should be followed up by the Bergier Commission.
Finally, the members of the Committee are unanimously agreed that its investigation has provided as full and complete accounting of the status of the accounts in Switzerland of victims of Nazi persecution as is now reasonably feasible. The Committee also believes that with the establishment of the claims resolution process for the accounts identified by the Committee as soon as possible, and its prompt implementation, a framework has been established for providing a measure of justice for those whose claims have been too long denied, and a line can be drawn under this difficult and contentious matter, bringing this one chapter in the long and sad story of Nazi brutality to a close.