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Swiss Bank Studies Nazi Gold

July 30, 1998

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ Switzerland’s central bank is carrying out its own study to shed more light on its gold dealings with Nazi Germany during World War II, a spokesman said Thursday.

The Swiss National Bank, charged with maintaining the strength of the Swiss currency, was sued last month by Holocaust survivors seeking damages for Switzerland’s acceptance of gold plundered by the Nazis.

The study, which aims to provide a clearer picture of economic policy during the war, is already under way, bank spokesman Gabriel Juri said. He declined to give further details.

Studies in recent months have said the central bank should have known that much of the gold it accepted from Nazi Germany during the war had been looted from the national treasuries of occupied countries.

An independent panel of historians reported in Switzerland last May that the bank also received 263 pounds of gold melted down from the possessions of concentration camp victims. But the historians said they had no evidence the bank knew the source of that gold.

During the war, Switzerland needed increasing amounts of gold to meet the demand for the Swiss franc, the only internationally acceptable currency on the Continent.

The central bank says it intends to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit. A similar suit has been filed against Swiss commercial banks over Holocaust-era assets.

New York City and New York state plan to start phasing in sanctions against Swiss commercial banks starting Sept. 1 if a settlement is not reached. California and other states are considering similar action.

Last month, the banks offered $600 million for a settlement of claims by Holocaust survivors. Jewish leaders said the banks should be paying more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, the Swiss government said President Flavio Cotti will meet on Sept. 7 with some 12 officials from major Swiss companies, as well as central bank and government officials, to discuss the sanctions.

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