August 15, 1996



       The Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, appointed under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Swiss Bankers Association and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), held its first meeting in New York yesterday.

       The Committee was organized as part of a major effort of Swiss Banks and the World Jewish Restitution Organization to resolve outstanding questions surrounding the disposition of assets placed in Switzerland before and during World War II.   At the unanimous request of all the members of the Committee, Mr. Paul A. Volcker agreed to serve as the Chairman of the Committee and chaired the meeting.

       The group focused on the role of the Committee in identifying any dormant accounts, financial instruments or other assets that were deposited or otherwise conveyed to the custody of Swiss banks before, during, or immediately after the Second World War.   The Committee approved the process for selecting auditors to examine the methodology of the individual Swiss banks in maintaining and identifying dormant accounts and other assets and to conduct a thorough investigation of these matters.

       In carrying out this task, the Committee will assist the Swiss Ombudsman in identifying assets and, as appropriate, recommend dispositions of such funds.   The Committee will cooperate with the Swiss Government in any investigations it may wish to make of the fate of Jewish assets in Switzerland between 1933 and 1945.

       The Committee heard statements by Mr. Edgar M. Bronfman, president of the WJRO, and Dr. Georg Krayer, President of the Swiss Bankers Association, who are signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding, although they are not members of the Committee.   They emphasized the historic importance of the work of the Committee and the need for close cooperation in carrying out the Committee's mandate.

       Finally, the Committee will assist the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the Swiss Bankers Association in their effort to assure that the Swiss Government will deal with the question of "looted assets" in Swiss banks or other institutions which were not reported or returned under relevant laws during the years before, during, and immediately after the Second World War.

       The Committee will meet periodically.

       The Committee members and alternates are:

Paul A. Volcker



Mr. Reuben Beraja
Mr. Avraham Burg
Prof. Dr. Curt Gasteyger
Prof. Dr. Alain Hirsch
Prof. Dr. Klaus Jacobi
Mr. Ronald S. Lauder

Mr. Hans Baer
Mr. Zvi Barak
Dr. Peider Mengiardi
Mr. Israel Singer

The Independent Committee of Eminent Persons
20 rue de Candolle (3rd Floor), 1205 Geneva, Switzerland
email: info@icep-iaep.org    &    icep-iaep.org :web