Financial News Press Release
Credit Suisse Group announces that key findings of investigation sought by Simon Wiesenthal Center did not support the Center's claims
Credit Suisse Group announced today that, after a two-year investigation commissioned by the bank to research historical questions raised by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), investigators found no evidence to support the SWC’s allegations that many individuals on an Argentine list of 12,000 names had accounts at Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (SKA), Credit Suisse’s predecessor bank, during the Nazi period. The investigation also found no evidence that eight long closed accounts identified in this period contained assets from any Holocaust victims. In addition, the bank's investigation fundamentally confirms existing research on Credit Suisse’s history published in the context of the 1999 Global Settlement that provided binding closure for the Swiss banks regarding all issues relating to World War II.
In March 2020, the SWC asked Credit Suisse to investigate a list of members of the Unión Alemana de Gremios (UAG), a Nazi-affiliated Argentine labor organization, claiming that “many” of the names on that list had accounts at SKA. Despite the 1999 Global Settlement, to which Credit Suisse and the SWC remain bound, the bank voluntarily engaged one of the world’s leading forensic investigative firms, AlixPartners, to investigate the claims.
In addition to investigating the UAG list compiled by an Argentine parliamentary commission in 1941, AlixPartners also searched the bank’s archives for the names of the members of the Argentine Nazi Party, as listed by the United States government in 1946, and conducted searches of additional names about which the SWC inquired.
For a period of more than two years, a team of up to 50 AlixPartners professionals spent more than 50,000 hours investigating the matter, using the bank’s archives and databases containing information on millions of historical Credit Suisse accounts. During the course of the investigation, AlixPartners applied state-of-the-art technology and manually reviewed 480,000 documents, and collected substantial evidence from external sources.
- AlixPartners determined that the list of approximately 12,000 members of the UAG labor organization provided by the SWC in fact referred to 8,951 unique individuals, excluding duplicates. The bank's research established that, at the time, individuals who sought work with German companies in Argentina were effectively required to join the UAG. Notably, the UAG list does not mention SKA or Credit Suisse and it does not contain any bank account information.
- AlixPartners examined the names on the UAG list and the 1,373 names on the U.S. government’s list against the relevant databases of Credit Suisse, including databases of dormant, closed and numbered accounts at SKA dating back to the early 1930s; as well as against the Arthur Andersen archive preserved from the 1990s investigation of the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Paul A. Volcker, that contains a comprehensive database of all available bank accounts from the Nazi period.
- After a review of plausible matches, AlixPartners identified eight individuals named on the Argentine lists who likely had an account relationship with SKA in the relevant period between 1933 and 1945. Seven of these relationships were closed by 1937, and only one relationship existed during World War II with a member of the UAG who had emigrated to Argentina in the 1920s. This individual was not on the U.S. government’s list of Argentine Nazi party members at any stage.
- AlixPartners also identified 70 closed accounts matching the Argentine lists that were opened years and, in many cases, decades after the end of World War II. The bank views these accounts as not relevant to the context of the issues raised by the SWC.
- In summary, AlixPartners’ findings identified no evidence to support the SWC’s claims that “many” of the UAG members or Argentine Nazis on the lists had accounts with SKA during the Nazi period, nor did they uncover evidence to suggest that any of the accounts identified during the period contained assets from Holocaust victims.
In addition to the Argentine lists, AlixPartners also examined other questions including a list of 311 senior Nazis that the SWC had sent to the President of Switzerland 25 years ago. In the 1990s, Credit Suisse’s historian, Prof. Joseph Jung, and the Independent Commission of Experts Switzerland – World War II ("Bergier Commission”) had analyzed this same list and identified additional eight persons with SKA accounts between 1933 and 1945. In addition to these previously published findings, AlixPartners – with the help of phonetic name-matching technology not available at the time — identified one additional account in the period that was closed in March 1933. For the post-war period, which was outside the focus of the Bergier Commission and Prof. Jung, AlixPartners confirmed 12 accounts that were opened in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. All of these accounts are closed.
To obtain independent verification, Credit Suisse has engaged the law firm Clifford Chance, with the assistance of KPMG Switzerland, to review the findings of the AlixPartners investigation, as a replacement for the former ombudsperson that the bank had previously retained. In addition, Credit Suisse has extended AlixPartners’ mandate to examine the post-war accounts identified in the investigation and certain other issues, underlining the bank’s commitment to pursuing historical truth as best it can, given the passage of time. The bank is also fully cooperating with an inquiry by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget.
Finally, the bank is aware of an account of the former ombudsperson’s limited engagement containing numerous factual errors, misleading and gratuitous statements and unsupported allegations that are based on an incomplete understanding of the facts. The bank strongly rejects these misrepresentations.
Credit Suisse has invited the SWC to meet with them and AlixPartners to present the findings of the investigation. AlixPartners’ Investigation Report as well as Credit Suisse’s Report on Historical Issues are available on request.
The 1999 Global Settlement
Between 1996 and 2000, significant efforts were made to reassess the history of Switzerland and its banks during the World War II era. In addition to the Bergier Commission, which published its findings in a final report and in 25 separate studies with around 10,000 pages, the Volcker Committee searched for assets of victims of Nazi persecution. Credit Suisse was the only major Swiss bank to publish the results of its research in an 800-page study in 2001.
A historic Global Settlement was reached in 1999 under the auspices of U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman to compensate Holocaust victims and their heirs, and to provide a comprehensive end to the controversy concerning Swiss banks and the World War II era and complete and binding closure for all the parties concerned. Major Jewish organizations, including the SWC, participated in the Global Settlement.
In its written endorsement, the SWC confirmed that the settlement was “fair, adequate and reasonable,” affirmed that it brought about “complete closure and an end to confrontation,” and “released and forever discharged” the Swiss banks from any and all claims relating to World War II (and its prelude and aftermath), the Holocaust, its victims as well as any transactions with or actions of the Nazi regime, assets looted from Holocaust victims, or assets held by any individual associated with the Nazis regardless of where such individual was located.