Documents on dormant assets transferred to the Federal Archives

Bern, 10.03.2016 - A section of the documents from the Swiss-based tribunal set up to investigate dormant accounts have been transferred to the Federal Archives. The Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT) assessed the claims of victims of National Socialist persecution or their heirs in respect of accounts at Swiss banks. The files consist primarily of copies of bank documents and asset statements from the 1930s onwards.

In 1996 and 1997, a number of class action law suits against Swiss banks were filed with a New York court. The plaintiffs accused the banks, inter alia, of retaining the assets of victims of National Socialist persecution. In parallel with the class actions, the Swiss Bankers Association, the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the World Jewish Congress agreed on a process for identifying the Swiss bank accounts of victims of National Socialist persecution.

In 1998, the banks agreed a “Global Settlement” with the plaintiffs, under which the banks paid USD 1.25 billion into a settlement fund and in return all the claims were dropped. Once the New York court had approved the settlement, a distribution plan was drawn up. The work of the Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT), which was responsible for the distribution, was divided into two phases: Phase 1 (CRT-1) involved assessing the claims of individuals whose names had already been published by the Swiss banks in 1997. Phase 2 (CRT-2) consisted of investigations in connection with the Global Settlement. The tribunal was closed in 2012 once its work was complete.
The documents from Phase 2 that the CRT used to assess the claims under the Global Settlement have now been transferred to the Federal Archives, which will catalogue them by the end of 2016 so that they can be searched. The costs are being borne by the Swiss Bankers Association and the tribunal. The rules governing access to the documents are similar to those set out in the Federal Act on Archiving (ArchA, SR 152.1); in other words, a closure period of 30 years applies. However, those directly affected have access to their documents at all times.

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