Swiss bank official attempts to explain anti-Semitic remark

ZURICH, May 21 (JTA) — The honorary chairman of the Union Bank of Switzerland is trying to backtrack on anti-Semitic comments he made to an American magazine. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine in April, Robert Holzach said, “The banking scandal is really a war. This had to do with a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world’s prestigious financial markets, something which is already happening in New York, London, and even Frankfurt.” The quote was part of a lengthy article on Switzerland’s dealings with Nazi Germany. But in an interview here this week, Holzach said he did not remember using the word “conspiracy.” He said his remarks about a war were intended to show support for Carlo Jagmetti, the former Swiss ambassador in Washington. Jagmetti resigned in February after the publication of a confidential diplomatic cable he authored calling for a public relations “war” against “adversaries,” such as the World Jewish Congress and U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.). Thomas Lyssy, vice president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, questioned in a statement how long the largest Swiss bank would allow Holzach to remain with the bank. UBS spokeswoman Gertrud Ehrismann said the bank’s board of directors regretted Holzach’s interview and that his statements did not reflect the views of the bank.

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