Please note that all filing deadlines have expired. No new claims to Swiss bank accounts may be filed.
Distribution data relating to the Deposited Assets Class may be accessed here
The decisions recommended by the CRT and authorized by the Court have been published on the Internet, and may be accessed here
Summary of Deposited Assets Class Program
The Deposited Assets Class claims process analyzed more than 104,000 claims filed by class members, seeking information about Swiss bank accounts on behalf of more than 415,000 victims of Nazi persecution. The claims process ultimately succeeded in identifying thousands of Holocaust-era Swiss bank accounts. Almost $720 million of the up to $800 million allocated to the Deposited Assets Class under the Distribution Plan ultimately was repaid to over 18,000 Holocaust victims and their heirs. The task was enormous and unprecedented.
Many of the rules and policies governing the claims process were based upon the results of a three-year investigation of Swiss banks conducted by the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (“ICEP” otherwise known as “Volcker Committee
,” led by former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System Paul A. Volcker). One of the largest, most complex, and historically significant forensic accounting audits ever conducted, the Volcker Committee investigation revealed that 6.8 million Holocaust-era Swiss bank accounts had existed in the 1933-1945 period. Over the decades, the banks had destroyed records for 2.7 million of those accounts, and often had kept only incomplete data for many of the remaining 4.1 million accounts. Swiss banking authorities limited the claims process largely to approximately 36,000 accounts, as these were the accounts that the Volcker auditors determined had “probably” or “possibly” belonged to Holocaust victims. Of these 36,000 accounts, Swiss authorities permitted publication of approximately 21,000.
The Claims Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) in Zurich was selected to administer the claims process, because the bank records were required to remain in Switzerland.
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, referred to as “CRT-I,” ultimately awarded approximately 207 accounts totaling $18.2 million to Victims of Nazi persecution or their heirs, and also issued awards for other accounts not owned by Holocaust victims. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, CRT-I payments to Victims of Nazi persecution or their heirs were payable from the Settlement Fund (and are included in the approximately $720 million returned to Holocaust victims or heirs, as cited above).
The second phase of CRT operations (CRT-II) began in connection with the processing
of claims submitted in connection with the Settlement Agreement. The CRT was led by its Special Masters, Paul Volcker and Michael Bradfield, and later by Helen B. Junz. Its operations were overseen by Secretaries General Mary Carter and Dov Rubinstein and a large staff of attorneys and legal assistants. The Rules Governing the Claims Resolution Process can be found here
On February 5, 2001, in accordance with the requirements of Swiss banking authorities, a list was published of approximately 21,000 Swiss bank accounts deemed by the Volcker Committee to have “probably” or “possibly” belonged to Nazi victims. The published list can be found here
. 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”).
Acting under the Court’s supervision, the CRT analyzed claims on a case-by-case basis for 415,453 relatives named by the claimants. The CRT understood that the passage of time, the loss of records, and the disruption in family relationships wrought by the Holocaust might have rendered a claimant unable to pinpoint precisely which family member had held a Swiss bank account. Accordingly, it was the CRT’s policy to analyze each and every name mentioned in a claim form, whether or not a claimant formally had designated that person as a claimed account owner.
When the pool of claimed account owners (415,453) was matched against the pool of known accounts (approximately 36,000, as augmented by approximately 1,500 additional accounts located by the CRT through its independent research), over 1.5 million matches were generated. Each of these 1.5 million matches needed to be examined by a member of the CRT staff. Many of the matches appeared valid at first glance, and required detailed and individualized analysis to determine whether the account owner actually had held a Swiss bank deposit to which the claimant was entitled. In many instances, the bank records were sparse, containing little more than an owner’s name and perhaps the city or even only country of residence. Because many names were common, numerous matches often were linked to the same account. Each match had to be analyzed to determine which claimant, if any, was the proper heir.
The Court authorized the CRT to incorporate evidentiary presumptions in assessing claims. Among these presumptions was the “adverse inference.” Under United States law, that rule of evidence permitted the CRT to draw an inference against the banks, and in favor of claimants, where documentary evidence had been destroyed by the banks, or had not been provided by the banks to assist the claims administrators. For a more detailed discussion of the “adverse inference,” Judge Korman’s opinion concerning the Swiss banks’ behavior during and after the Holocaust may be accessed here
. As the Court’s decision indicates, the Deposited Assets Class program helped to reveal the extent to which the Swiss banks were viewed as a beacon of safety by targets of Nazi persecution, and the lengths to which those same banks went to stonewall, conceal and withhold assets from their account owners.
If the CRT considered it plausible that the Account Owner or his or her heirs did not receive the proceeds of the claimed account, it then analyzed the banks’ records regarding the account to determine its type and value. The amount of the award was based upon the historic value of the account, adjusted for fees and interest. If the actual value of an account was unknown, the CRT relied on the results of the Volcker Committee investigation as to the average value of the same or similar type of account during the time period from 1933 to 1945. For most of the claims process, account values were multiplied by a standard factor of 12.5 to adjust to current values (an amount increased from the original factor of 10 applied at the outset of the claims process). The CRT also determined how the account proceeds were to be divided among the claimant(s) and any party he or she may have represented.
The average value of each awarded account was $115,889. Because many awards included more than one account, the average value of each authorized award was $184,130.
The CRT also issued additional awards for claims that were deemed plausible, but for which documentary evidence could not be located, as the banks had destroyed millions of relevant records. These “Plausible Undocumented Awards” (“PUAs”) relied upon the principle that it was inappropriate to penalize claimants for lack of documentation, when it was the banks’ obligation to preserve such records. Each PUA was originally issued in the amount of $5,000, subsequently increased to $7,250. Of the approximately $720 million returned to Holocaust victims and heirs under the Deposited Assets Class claims process, approximately $86 million was paid under the PUA process.