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Swiss Bankers Discover More Dormant Holocaust-era Accounts

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Swiss banks have found as many as 4,000 more dormant accounts opened by non-Swiss citizens during the Holocaust era, according to the Swiss Bankers Association.

Those accounts, worth a total of $4.1 million, are more than twice the number of accounts published by the association in July.

But the majority of these newly found accounts are likely quite small.

By comparison, the July list of some 1,800 dormant accounts, published in major newspapers around the world and on the Internet, involved accounts that were estimated at the time to have a total value of some $42 million.

In addition to the just-disclosed 4,000 accounts opened by non-Swiss citizens, the Swiss banks’ ongoing search of their records has turned up an additional 10,000 accounts opened by Swiss citizens, according to association spokeswoman Silvia Matile.

Those accounts, valued at between $6.9 million to $8.3 million, were possibly opened on behalf of non-Swiss citizens, and may have included Holocaust victims seeking a safe haven for their funds.

The Swiss Bankers Association plans to publish a new list on Oct. 29 of some 14,000 Holocaust-era dormant accounts. The list will combine the 4,000 accounts opened by non-Swiss citizens and another 10,000 accounts opened by people with Swiss citizenship.

But as many as 70,000 accounts containing less than 100 Swiss francs — about $70 — will not be published, Matile said.

In an ad published Tuesday in newspapers around the world, the Bankers Association provides contact addresses and telephone numbers for those seeking additional information.

The ad, which details the commitment of the Swiss banks to resolve the issue of dormant World War II accounts, comes as part of ongoing Swiss attempts to demonstrate that the country is confronting its wartime past.

The Swiss banks last year began their investigation of dormant accounts from World War II after being criticized by Jewish leaders for serving as the Nazis’ bankers and for refusing to turn over accounts opened by Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

The more their investigation proceeds, the more accounts are turned up by the Swiss banks, as their own recent disclosures have shown.

In testimony last fall before a U.S. congressional panel, Swiss Bankers Association representatives said they could only locate 775 accounts worth about $32 million.

Jewish groups have charged that Swiss banks are holding up to $7 billion in assets deposited by Jews during the World War II era.

Anyone seeking information about dormant accounts needs to request an information kit, which includes a claim form to be filed to the accounting firm of Ernst & Young. The firm has set up offices in New York, Tel Aviv, Basel, Budapest and Sydney to handle requests.

The list of accounts and the information kit are available via the Internet at www.dormantaccounts.ch

Anyone with questions can call toll-free (800) 662-7708.

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