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Approval of the Swiss bank settlement.
The two major Swiss banks, Credit Suisse Group and UBS AG, have welcomed the decision by US District Judge Edward Korman to approve the USD 1.25 billion settlement. The verdict reached by Judge Korman in the fairness hearing has cleared the way for the settlement to be made. It is now up to the court to draw up a distribution plan by autumn 2000 and to determine how the funds are to be distributed. The banks hope that those Holocaust survivors or their heirs with an entitlement to the monies from the fund will receive the amounts they are due as soon as possible. The Swiss Bankers Association will publish on the Internet a list of names of the holders of dormant and closed accounts dating from the Second World War era who may have been victims of the Holocaust.
The settlement reached between the two major Swiss banks and the class action lawyers, as well as the Jewish organisations, was agreed on 12 August 1998. It settled all claims filed against Switzerland, Swiss companies and Swiss organisations - with the exception of three separate suits filed against insurance companies - in connection with deposited assets, Nazi gold, refugee policy and slave labour. The court has since been engaged in a worldwide search for those possibly entitled to monies from the settlement, has carried out fairness hearings and regulated the conclusion of the settlement between the parties concerned. Last December the Volcker Commission published its report, which provided a comprehensive examination and assessment of the Swiss banks' handling of dormant accounts. The report concluded that the banks had, on the whole, managed the assets with which they had been entrusted in a legal and correct manner. However, the Commission indicated that the banks had acted inappropriately in a number of individual cases and demonstrated a lack of sensitivity towards victims of the Nazi regime. The recommendations made by the Volcker Commission were - to a large extent - accepted by the Federal Banking Commission, thus enabling the courts to approve the settlement.
The Swiss banks have spent an enormous amount of money on their unique, global investigation, and the major banks have, in the interests of the entire country, agreed to a settlement which allows them to generously compensate those who suffered as a result of the errors and omissions of the past. By doing so, they have helped to mitigate the consequences of one of the greatest tragedies of our history. They have expressed their hopes that this process will now be carried out rapidly and be concluded with the agreement of all those concerned.
New York/Zürich, 26 July 2000
Credit Suisse Group