09 Mar 2020
Investigators at the Simon Wiesenthal Center say they have identified bank accounts at Credit Suisse that were maintained on behalf of “many” included on a list of 12,000 alleged Nazis living in Argentina during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
The newly-obtained list stems from a cache of seized documents that became the basis of a report drafted at the time by Argentine lawmakers, who cited related payments sent from the Latin American country to financial institutions in Switzerland. Until recently, all copies of the list were believed to have been destroyed in 1943, following the overthrow of Argentina’s republican government by a fascistic military junta, according to the center.
“Many” of the 12,000 individuals “contributed to one or more bank accounts at the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt, which became the Credit Suisse bank,” the organization said in a press release issued last week. The center did not offer further details on the number of accounts believed to be involved or on related financial activity.
“We believe very probable that these dormant accounts hold monies looted from Jewish victims, under the Nuremberg Aryanization laws of the 1930s,” the center said in a letter to Credit Suisse Vice-President Christian Küng.
In a statement to the Financial Times, the bank said that, “from about 1997 to 1999, an independent committee chaired by Paul Volcker carried out an investigation of Credit Suisse and about 60 other Swiss banks, searching for accounts possibly or probably owned by victims of Nazi persecution and brought evidence of accounts held by Nazis to the attention of the Independent Committee of Experts [the Bergier Commission].”
The commission believes that the Volcker investigation had “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 bank told the FT.
A Credit Suisse spokesperson confirmed with the news outlet that it had been in contact with the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center and intended to investigate its claims.
An investigation during the 1990s led by Swiss diplomat Thomas Borer uncovered Nazi-linked accounts at UBS and Credit Suisse. In 1998, the Swiss financial institutions agreed to pay $1.25 billion to victims of the Holocaust and their heirs, the FT said.
Borer told the newspaper that it “seems highly unlikely” that the Wiesenthal center has identified 12,000 Nazis who were not previously investigated.
“There is always the possibility that there are more names and more accounts but one should not forget just how much this was investigated,” Borer told the FT. “The banks spent SFr500 million on accounting firms alone to look into this.”
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