Lithuanian group gets Holocaust-era accounts

Citigroup has transferred two dormant Lithuanian Holocaust-era bank accounts to a Lithuanian Jewish group.

The accounts were sent to the Foundation for the Lithuanian Jewish Heritage, the New York State Banking Department and The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee announced Thursday.

They were held originally by the Central Bank for the Furtherance of Cooperatives in Lithuania, which was set up by the JDC and dozens of local Jewish cooperative banks in 1921 to help rebuild Jewish life in Lithuania after World War I. The bank also granted small business loans until 1940.

It was unclear how Citigroup ended up with the accounts, according to a JDC spokeswoman, but the bank contacted the Holocaust Claims Processing Office to help determine its original holder.

The organizations are not making public how much the accounts are worth, but JDC characterized them as “tens of thousands of dollars.”

The Foundation for the Lithuanian Heritage was established by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the World Jewish Restitution Organization to help the Lithuanian government on restitution of Jewish property expropriated after 1940. It will become fully operational once the Lithuanian government enacts a law for the restitution of the property. The JDC will hold the Citigroup money in escrow until the law is enacted.

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