banner  
 


Deposited Assets Class

Please note that all filing deadlines have expired. No new claims to Swiss bank accounts may be filed.

For the most recent distribution data relating to the Deposited Assets Class, please click here. Every decision recommended by the CRT and authorized by the Court is published on the Internet. The decisions may be accessed here.

Overview
Many of the determinations in the Distribution Plan with respect to the Deposited Assets Class were based upon the results of a three-year investigation of Swiss banks conduced by the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (“ICEP” or otherwise known as “Volcker Committee”). The Volcker Committee identified at least 36,000 accounts “probably” or “possibly” belonging to Nazi victims or their heirs. Calculating known or estimated account values, the 36,000 accounts were estimated to be worth between $643 million and $1.36 billion, including interest, in then-current dollars. In recognition of the number and value of identifiable Holocaust victim accounts provided in the Volcker Report, the priority the Settlement Agreement places upon bank accounts, and the legal and historical strength of the claims, the Distribution Plan set aside up to $800 million of the $1.25 billion settlement for awards to Deposited Assets class members.

The Volcker Committee’s determinations were relevant not only to the value placed upon the Deposited Assets Class claims but also to the claims process. The Volcker Committee concluded that approximately 6.8 million Swiss bank accounts had been opened or open during the Holocaust era, of which records relating to some 2.7 million accounts had been destroyed. The Committee recommended that the remaining 4.1 million accounts be consolidated into a “Total Accounts Database” for use in a claims process on behalf of Nazi victims or heirs. Swiss banking authorities did not accept that recommendation. However, Swiss authorities did accept the Volcker Committee’s recommendation to publish some 21,000 accounts deemed to have probably or possibly belonged to Holocaust victims, and to make available to the claims process another 15,000 unpublished accounts, resulting in an available database of 36,000 accounts (the “Account History Database” or “AHD”).

On December 8, 2000, Judge Korman appointed Paul Volcker and Michael Bradfield, former Chairman and Counsel, respectively of ICEP, as Special Masters to establish, organize and supervise the Claims Resolution Process, using the already existing Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT) as the Court-supervised administrative agent responsible for processing of Deposited Assets claims. On April 13, 2004, Judge Korman appointed international economist Helen B. Junz, formerly a member of the Bergier Commission, as an additional CRT Special Master. Mr. Volcker is no longer serving as CRT Special Master due to his commitment to the United Nations “food-for-oil” investigation.

The CRT was initially established in 1997 to arbitrate claims to 5,570 dormant accounts in Swiss banks that were published in 1997 prior to the completion of the ICEP investigation. That arbitration process is now referred to as “CRT-I.” The accounts adjudicated by CRT-I dated from 1933 to 1945 and remained open and dormant. Those accounts were owned both by Victims of Nazi Persecution and others who were not persecuted. CRT-I adjudicated over 9,000 claims to accounts published in 1997. The CRT-I process ultimately awarded approximately 207 accounts totaling $18.2 million to Victims of Nazi persecution or their heirs. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, CRT-I payments to Victims of Nazi persecution or their heirs were payable from the Settlement Fund.

The second phase of CRT operations (CRT-II) began in connection with the processing of claims submitted in connection with the Settlement Agreement. On February 5, 2001, a list was published of approximately 21,000 Swiss bank accounts deemed by the Volcker Committee to “probably” or “possibly” belong to Nazi victims. On January 13, 2005, following ongoing negotiations with the defendant banks, an additional list of approximately 2,700 names of Account Owners and 400 names of Power of Attorney holders was published (the “2005 List”). The deadlines for submitting claims related to the 2001 and 2005 Lists have expired.
In total, approximately 105,000 claims were filed in connection with the 2001 and 2005 Lists (including approximately 32,000 claim forms filed in connection with the 2001 published list, approximately 2,000 claim forms filed in connection with the 2005 list, approximately 70,000 Initial Questionnaires which have been determined to satisfy the requirements of Judge Korman's July 31, 2001 Order and approximately 4,600 claims that were submitted on behalf of “victims or targets of Nazi persecution” that were filed with entities authorized to treat these claims prior to the Settlement Agreement: ICEP, Ernst & Young, and CRT-I (as per Judge Korman's December 30, 2004 Order)). Although the CRT continues to process these claims, the deadline for filing claims has expired.
The CRT Claims Process
Guided by the principle adopted under the Distribution Plan that individual claims to deposited assets in Swiss banks must be individually assessed, the Court has adopted rules to govern the CRT process to set forth guidelines for the resolution of claims within a mass claims process while maintaining the benefits of due process of law. Please click here to see the Rules Governing the Claims Resolution Process, as amended (“the Rules”).
The Rules grant the CRT jurisdiction over claims to Deposited Assets owned by “Victims or Targets of Nazi persecution,” in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement, which defines that term as any individual who was persecuted or targeted for persecution by the Nazi regime because he or she was or was believed to be Jewish, Romani, Jehovah’s Witness, homosexual, or physically or mentally disabled or handicapped. The CRT reviews each claim to determine whether the claimed account owner was a member of one of these five categories. If a claim is deemed inadmissible, the Claimant will be notified. A Claimant whose claim has been ruled inadmissible has the right to appeal this decision by writing to the CRT within 90 days.
All admissible claims are matched against the 36,000-account AHD. These matches are then reviewed to determine whether the person identified in the claim form as the claimant’s relative is the person plausibly identified in the bank records as the Account Owner. Reviewers consider such important factors including as the Account Owner's city and country of residence, profession, marital status, and family member names. Claimants who have not plausibly identified their relative as the Account Owner are notified and may appeal the CRT's decision in accordance with the CRT Rules.
Accounts that are determined through the matching process to have belonged to a claimant’s relative are then reviewed to determine whether the claimant’s relative previously has received the proceeds of the account. The Rules specify presumptions used by the CRT to determine whether the Account Owner or his or her heirs received the proceeds. Among the presumptions upon which the CRT is the “adverse inference,” which under United States law authorizes the CRT to draw an inference against the banks and in favor of claimants where documentary evidence was destroyed or is not provided to assist the claims administrators. For a more detailed discussion of the “adverse inference,” please click here to read Judge Korman’s opinion concerning the Swiss banks’ behavior during and after the Holocaust.
If the CRT finds it plausible that the Account Owner or his or her heirs did not receive the proceeds of the claimed account, it then analyzes the banks’ records regarding the account to determine its type and value. The amount of the award is based upon the historic value of the account, adjusted for fees and interest. If the actual value of an account is unknown, the CRT relies on the results of the ICEP investigation as to the average value of the same or similar type of account during the time period from 1933 to 1945. As of August 25, 2003, all account values are multiplied by a standard factor of 12.5 to adjust them to current values. The CRT also determines how the account proceeds are to be divided among the claimant and any party he or she may represent.
The Court reviews and approves all decisions with the assistance of the Special Masters. Claimants to Court-approved awards are required to sign acknowledgement forms which release their claims to the awarded accounts and obligate them to share the award amount with any other heirs of the Account Owner who may be entitled to the proceeds of the account under the CRT Rules.
On February 17, 2006, Judge Korman adopted the proposal submitted by Special Master Judah Gribetz and Deputy Special Master Shari Reig recommending that payments be made to claimants who have demonstrated plausible claims to Holocaust-era Swiss bank accounts for which no bank records have been located (“Plausible Undocumented Awards” or “PUAs”). The PUAs rely upon the principle that it is inappropriate to penalize claimants for lack of documentation when it was the banks’ obligation to preserve such records. Each PUA is in the amount of $5,000.
On March 21, 2006, Special Master Junz filed a memorandum proposing an adjustment to the presumptive values currently used by the CRT to establish award amounts for accounts with unknown values. Special Master Junz studied the presumptive values employed in the award process as recommended by the Volcker Committee auditors. She compared those amounts to the average known values for actual awarded accounts, as well as the accounts of known value contained in the 36,000-account AHD. Special Master Junz recommended that the presumptive values used by the CRT to award accounts for which balances are unknown be altered to make it “more representative of the universe of awardable accounts.”
Special Master Junz filed three subsequent reports analyzing the presumptive values currently in use in the Deposited Assets Class claims process on May 14, 2007, July 15, 2007 and October 10, 2008. Her reports were described by Special Master Judah Gribetz and Deputy Special Master Shari C. Reig in the following two submissions: CRT Special Master Junz' Proposal for Adjustment of Deposited Assets Class Presumptive Values in the Context of the Settlement Agreement and the Distribution Plan,” December 19, 2008.; CRT Special Master Junz' Proposal for Adjustment of Deposited Assets Class Presumptive Values: Supplemental Contextual Analysis," April 9, 2009. After considering Special Master Junz' reports as well as objections submitted by the State of Israel and the Holocaust Survivors' Foundation-USA, Judge Korman issued an order approving upward adjustment of presumptive values used in the claims resolution process for the Deposited Assets Class, and also authorizing additional payments for Deposited Assets Class plausible undocumented awards ("PUAs") on June 16, 2010.
For more information on the CRT process, please visit the CRT website at www.crt-ii.org. For information relating to the CRT-I claims process, please visit http://www.crt-ii.org/_crt-i/. The Rules Governing the Claims Resolution Process can be found here.