108 Swiss Banks
Payback Jewish Clients From $1.25 billion to Holocaust
14, 2005 / Denouncing Swiss banks for their "widespread
betrayal of Jewish clients," a tribunal Wednesday awarded an
elderly Los Angeles woman and a dozen relatives $21 million
from a fund established to compensate Holocaust survivors
whose assets were illegally.
Denouncing Swiss banks for their
"widespread betrayal of Jewish clients," a tribunal
Wednesday awarded an elderly Los Angeles woman and a dozen
relatives $21 million from a fund established to compensate
Holocaust survivors whose assets were illegally seized
during the Nazi era.
It was the largest award to date by the
Claims Resolution Tribunal, formed in 1998 in the settlement
of class-action lawsuits brought against Swiss banks in
Brooklyn, N.Y., federal court.
The suits charged that the banks
collaborated with the Nazis and withheld from Holocaust
survivors and their heirs vast sums of money deposited for
safekeeping before World War II. To settle the case, a
consortium of Swiss financial institutions agreed to pay
$1.25 billion to Holocaust
Sharing in the award announced
Wednesday will be Maria V. Altmann, 89, who fled her native
Austria after the Nazi takeover in 1938. She eventually made
her way to Los Angeles and opened a dress
Altmann said she didn't know the banks
had passed her family fortune to the Nazis until her lawyer,
E. Randol Schoenberg, persuaded her to file a claim with the
"It's like a beautiful fairy tale,"
Altmann said after learning of the award. "And an ugly one
for the Swiss banks
. I never dreamed there was so much
money stolen from our family."
Last year, Altmann won a landmark U.S.
Supreme Court case allowing her to pursue a lawsuit to
recover six paintings valued at $150 million. The paintings
had been confiscated by the Nazis from her uncle, Ferdinand
Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy Viennese
The contested paintings by Austrian
artist Gustav Klimt, including a world-famous portrait of
Altmann's aunt, Adele, have been on display at an Austrian
Austria, supported by the U.S.
government, argued that it was immune under a federal law
blocking most lawsuits against foreign
But the high court ruled 6 to 3 for
Altmann and sent the case back to Los Angeles federal court
for trial, which is pending.
Altmann said she harbors no hard
feelings toward the Swiss, noting that they provided
sanctuary to her uncle when he fled Vienna after Nazi
Germany's takeover of Austria.
The Claims Resolution Tribunal,
however, was highly critical of the Swiss banking
establishment's conduct during the war. In a 52-page report,
the tribunal said Bloch-Bauer's treatment was "a striking
example of the widespread betrayal of Jewish clients by
Bloch-Bauer, who died in poverty in
Switzerland in 1945, had been a major shareholder in
Osterreichische Zuckerindustrie AG, Austria's biggest sugar
Just before the Nazi takeover, the
company's Jewish owners transferred their shares for
safekeeping to an unnamed Swiss bank with the promise that
they would not be sold or transferred without the owners'
Sadly, the tribunal's report said, the
bank did not live up to its legal and fiduciary obligations.
When the Nazis moved to seize control of the company, the
bank cooperated by selling the owners' shares to a
designated Nazi "purchaser" at a fraction of their value,
the tribunal found.
"Having marketed themselves to the Jews
of Europe as a safe haven for their property, Swiss banks
repeatedly turned Jewish-owned property over to the Nazis to
curry favor with them," the report
The tribunal report said its authors
were struck by the fact that the bank kept no records of its
receipt or disposal of the Jewish owners' stock shares. The
documents on which the $21-million award was based were
obtained from outside archival
"We will never know how many other
examples of betrayal were buried in the records of the
2,757,950 accounts -- of the 6,858,116 opened in Swiss banks
between 1933-45 -- the banks concede they have destroyed,"
the report continued.
Austrian Jews, the report said, have
experienced exceptional difficulties obtaining restitution
for losses suffered during the
It is telling, said the report's
authors, that the Austrian government official who oversaw
post-war restitution proceedings regarding Bloch-Bauer's
company was a Nazi Party member who had worked in the office
responsible for confiscating Jewish assets in
As of January, the Claims Resolution
Tribunal had received more than 32,000 claims from Nazi
victims or their heirs.
News 162005 / TeleCom Buy Outs and Asset Seizure
We Preserve The
tviNews.net, YES90, Your Easy Searh, Associated Press,
Reuters, BBC, LA Times, NY Times, VRA's D-Diaries, Industry
Press Releases, They Said It and SmartSearch were used in
compiling and ascertaining this Yes90 news report.
©1956-2005. Copyright. All rights
reserved by: TVI Publications, VRA TelePlay Pictures, xingtv
and Big Six Media Entertainments. Tel/Fax: 323
We Preserve The Moment
Banks Payback Jewish Clients From $1.25 billion to
Holocaust victim Fund
Television International Magazine's Person Of The
/ Ted Turner / Front Cover Vol
TVI 61 Cover
Convergence - 16th Week of 162005
106FCCKingburyReport.htm Smart90, s90tv, lookradio,
tvimagazine, dv90, vratv, xingtv, Ddiaries, nbs100,
Look Radio, Josie Cory,
With No Borders
Do We Do Business?