Swiss banks release 14,000 names of dormant accounts

NEW YORK, Oct. 29 (JTA) – Swiss banks have released the names of an additional 14,000 dormant accounts opened before the end of World War II. Because of the large number of names – and complaints from account holders that their privacy had been invaded when the banks published in July a list of some 1,800 dormant accounts – none of the names of the account holders will be published in newspapers. Of the 14,000 accounts, about 3,700 belonged to non-Swiss citizens, but the banks provided no assurances that they belonged to Holocaust survivors. These names were posted on the Internet. Those interested in accessing this list of accounts and obtaining an information kit can do so via the Internet at www.dormantaccounts.ch Anyone with questions can call (800) 662-7708. The remaining 10,000 or so accounts belonged to Swiss citizens – some of whom may have opened the accounts on behalf of Holocaust victims. The bankers’ association said this list includes only those accounts containing $70 or more. Information regarding accounts with Swiss names may be obtained directly from the Swiss banks or their overseas representatives. The 3,700 accounts opened by non-Swiss citizens, worth a total of $4.1 million, are more than twice the number of accounts published by the Swiss Bankers Association in July. The average amount in these latest accounts is about $1,100. The Swiss banks said they would add accrued interest according to a formula to be devised by American economist Henry Kaufman. By comparison, the July list of some 1,800 dormant accounts opened by non-Swiss citizens, published in major newspapers around the world and on the Internet, involved accounts estimated at the time to have a value of some $42 million. The accounts opened by Swiss citizens are valued at about $8.3 million, bringing the total amount involved in all the accounts announced so far to about $54.4 million. 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. As their investigation proceeds, more accounts are being 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.

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