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Swiss official admits bank made profit from Nazi loot

GENEVA, Dec. 16 (JTA) — The Swiss National Bank has publicly acknowledged that it profited from its dealings with Nazi Germany. The bank’s vice president, Jean-Pierre Roth, said at a news conference last Friday that the bank’s profits had totaled 20 million Swiss francs. But Roth added, “There is nothing to indicate that gold from concentration camps was among this.” He did not deny that at least some of the gold had been stolen by Nazi Germany from the countries it occupied during the war. Roth explained that Switzerland had traded with Hitler’s Germany as part of its effort to avoid Nazi occupation. Roth’s comments came in the wake of a mounting campaign launched by Jewish groups for Switzerland to make early restitution to Holocaust victims or their heirs for unclaimed deposits they made in Swiss banks before and during the war. Observers said that last Friday’s admission of the profits — it was not clear whether the amount was the current or wartime value — was likely to result in further calls from Jewish groups to make the early restitution. The groups maintain that Swiss banks are still holding billions of dollars in unclaimed assets that belonged to victims of the Holocaust. One panel, which includes Swiss, American and Jewish officials, has been formed to determine the extent and whereabouts of these unclaimed assets. A second group, including Swiss jurists and historians, has also been formed to probe Switzerland’s dealings with the Nazis. Switzerland’s famed bank secrecy laws will be lifted to enable the two panels to complete their work.

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