For immediate release
April 22, 1999
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE OF EMINENT PERSONS
The Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, chaired by Paul A. Volcker, held its 12th meeting in New York on April 22, 1999. At this meeting, the Committee reviewed the progress since its last meeting on January 27, 1999, of the audit firms mandated to investigate Swiss banks for dormant accounts of victims of Nazi persecution.
At its January meeting, the Committee had set a firm target of March 31, 1999 for achieving the completion of data collection in the banks. It also set a firm target of the end of May 1999 for the completion of the auditors' work within banks on matching of the victim and accounts databases and the researching of the results of these matches.
The auditors reported that they had essentially completed the accounts databases and other investigation work in the banks by the end of March. They also informed the Committee that they are confident, based upon the matching and research work already accomplished and their plans of the work still to be done to complete the necessary remaining matching and research work by the end of May.
The Committee noted that a key element of its investigative procedure involves the matching of the names of victims of Nazi persecution against databases of account names that were open or opened in Swiss banks during the period 1933-1945. As a part of this effort, name lists are now being provided to the Committee by the Israeli Holocaust Memorial in Israel, Yad Vashem. To supplement other lists of victims of Nazi persecution developed by the Committee amounting to over 700,000 names, over 2.5 million victim names have been received from Yad Vashem, and the work on providing additional names is well under way. The timely delivery of the remaining victim names will be of great assistance to the Committee and the auditors in meeting the timetable established by the Committee for completion of the matching and research, as well as the final report of the Committee scheduled for September 1999.
On-time implementation of the Committee's firm targets also depends on the continued full cooperation of Swiss banks with the investigation. The Committee welcomed the fact that the Swiss banks have so far fully cooperated. A question about the participation of a very few banks has however arisen. Intensive discussions have been undertaken with these institutions. The Committee has made a commitment that it would inform the public of any failures by Swiss banks to cooperate with the investigation.
The Committee will closely monitor developments in the closing phase of the investigation by receiving regular reports from the auditors on the results of their work as it proceeds to its conclusion. The Committee will meet again in July to review the results of the auditors' efforts and to prepare its final report.