Swiss Banks Freeze Accounts Allegedly Held by Former Nazis

The Swiss Bankers Association has agreed to freeze the dormant accounts of people believed to be former high-ranking Nazis and collaborators.

The move came in response to a request from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which found 105 suspect names after it scrutinized the list of 1,800 dormant wartime accounts publicized in July by the bankers association.

The names were identical to, or closely resembled, those appearing on lists of suspected war criminals and SS officers drawn up by United Nations officials.

In a letter to Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, a senior official of the Swiss Bankers Association said he had advised all member banks to place the suspect accounts on hold.

The official, Christoph Meier, added that the names and status of these accounts will be submitted to the Independent Claims Resolution Panel, a group of independent international arbitrators created by the Swiss to review disputed dormant accounts.

The panel will determine “if these assets belonged to war criminals or have been looted from victims of Nazi persecution, and to whom the related assets should properly go,” Meier wrote.

He added that the bankers association would also discuss the matter with the Independent Commission of Experts, the international panel of historians that was created by Switzerland last December to study the extent of the country’s financial dealings with the Nazis. The group is also known as the Bergier Commission, after its chairman, historian Jean-Francois Bergier.

Hier said that despite Meier’s letter, “We remain concerned that current Swiss laws and regulations could still provide loopholes which would enable the transfer of blood-soaked assets to the families of Nazis.”

Hier also urged the bankers association to immediately forward to the Wiesenthal Center all remaining names of dormant accounts so that they can be systematically checked against existing lists of Nazi officers and collaborators.

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