For Immediate Release
January 27, 1999
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE OF EMINENT PERSONS
The Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, chaired by Paul A. Volcker, held its 11th meeting in Zurich on January 27, 1999. At this meeting, the Committee focused on plans and objectives for bringing the investigation of Swiss banks for dormant accounts of victims of Nazi persecution to a conclusion.
As a result of intensive work over the past months, the basic data collection and analysis of Swiss banking deposits originating in the period before and during World War II is approaching completion. The Committee, just yesterday, has received the first installment of an anticipated continuing flow of data on the names of victims of Nazi persecution from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. This is an important element in the effort to identify dormant accounts of Jewish victims.
In the light of these developments the Committee was able to establish Firm Goals for the completion of its work. The Committee is committed to achieving the basic data collection in the banks by the end of March 1999. Similarly, for the final phase of the Committee's statistical work, the matching of the victim and accounts databases and the researching of the results of these matches, is targeted for completion by the end of May, with the same firm intention to finish this job in this time period. To the extent circumstances require the extension of this work in a few banks for a short period beyond the indicated dates, the Swiss Banking Commission will be informed and consulted.
While it will never be possible to fully reconstruct the past, especially as it involves records of more than half a century ago and the use of aliases and intermediaries, the Committee expects to be able to place the picture of the wartime dealing in bank deposits and other bank assets in Switzerland in broad context, as well as identifying additional dormant accounts of victims. The Committee, as a result of its experience, has concentrated the work to be accomplished over the next several months in the most relevant areas. Specifically, the Committee found it could target the matching process most effectively by focusing on the accounts of nonresidents of Switzerland that is, those who were directly at risk from the terrors of Nazi persecution.
Consistent with these clearly established timing goals and strategic decisions, the Committee had a preliminary discussion of plans for drafting and publishing its final report. This report will contain an overall statistical review of the findings of the auditors and a broad analysis of the handling of dormant accounts by Swiss banks after World War II. Recommendations will be made on the publication of the names of relevant dormant account holders from the 1939-1945 period so that the account holders themselves or their descendants may lay claim to these accounts.