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Governor: Banking Chief to Serve on Holocaust Claims Panel
- Banking Superintendent McCaul to be Member Of Advisory Committee to Special Masters -

June 6, 2001

Governor George E. Pataki today announced that Superintendent of Banks Elizabeth McCaul has been appointed to serve on the Advisory Committee to the Claims Resolution Tribunal, which is supervising the Holocaust victims' claims resolution process.

The Claims Resolution Tribunal, headed by Special Masters Paul Volcker and Michael Bradfield, will adjudicate claims of Holocaust survivors and their heirs to accounts in Swiss banks and insurance policies from the 1933-1945 period.

"New York State is firmly committed to pursuing restitution for Holocaust victims and their heirs," Governor Pataki said. "Superintendent McCaul has done an outstanding job at our Holocaust Claims Processing Office and I know that she will continue to make a real difference for the families of Holocaust survivors in her new role as an advisor to the Claims Resolution Tribunal."

Special Master Paul Volcker said, "Superintendent McCaul has taken a major role through the Holocaust Claims Processing Office and her interest in the fair and prompt administration of the settlement in the Holocaust Victim Assets litigation. She will now make another significant contribution through the Advisory Committee."

Superintendent McCaul said, "I want to thank Special Masters Volcker and Bradfield for considering me to serve in this historic post and express my gratitude to Governor Pataki for his commitment to ensuring Holocaust victims and their heirs receive restitution. I will remain committed to ensure that the restitution process will be just, efficient, and concluded in a timely fashion. I hope to effectively share the successful experiences of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office with the Claims Resolution Tribunal in a manner which will benefit claimants."

On February 5, 2001, Special Masters Paul Volcker and Michael Bradfield announced the publication of a list of names of account holders and the commencement of a Claims Resolution Process. A series of lawsuits brought against Swiss banks by Holocaust survivors and their heirs resulted in a settlement agreement in which the banks agreed to pay a total of $1.25 billion to resolve claims relating in part to their failure to return the deposits of Holocaust victims. Of this amount, $800 million was earmarked specifically for claims against Swiss banks.

The plan for the claims program was authorized by Chief Judge Edward R. Korman in November 2000 and Special Masters Volcker and Bradfield were appointed to establish, organize, and supervise the claims resolution process, using the Claims Resolution Tribunal. The Claims Resolution Tribunal was originally created in 1997 to resolve claims to dormant accounts that were published by the Swiss Bankers Association that year.

In November 2000, Superintendent McCaul urged the court to consider recommendations by the State Banking Department and on January 19, 2001, she testified at a hearing on the rules and procedures to establish a framework for the operation of the Claims Resolution Tribunal.

Article 53 of the Rules Governing the Claims Resolution Process, which was approved by the court, specifically vests Special Masters Volcker and Bradfield with the authority to create an Advisory Committee with representatives from the survivor community as well as from organizations and government entities with experience in these matters.

The Advisory Committee will consist of the following members:

Judah Gribetz, the Special Master appointed by Judge Korman who prepared the plan of allocation and distribution of settlement proceeds in the Holocaust Victim Asset litigation;

Rabbi Israel Singer, Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress;

Zvi Barak, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ICC Jerusalem International Convention Center, and former member of the Independent Committee of Imminent Persons;

Gideon Taylor, Executive V.P., Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany; Superintendent Elizabeth McCaul, New York State Banking Department; and

Holocaust Survivor, Ben Meed, President of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors.

The Advisory Committee will provide guidance to Special Masters Volcker and Bradfield concerning the process of distributing the $800 million, but not on adjudicating claims.

In 1997, Governor Pataki authorized the creation of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) which serves as an advocate for Holocaust victims and their heirs who seek to recover assets wrongfully taken during World War II. The Governor first directed the Department to investigate the pre-war and wartime activities of New York agencies of Swiss banks.

Since the HCPO's inception, it has received a total of 4,615 claims from 33 countries and 44 states referencing nearly 7, 000 individual bank account and insurance policy holders. In addition, the HCPO has received 66 looted art claims from 7 countries and 17 states referencing more than 16, 000 lost, looted, and stolen items.

More specifically, almost half the total claims that the HCPO has received relate to individuals who lived in pre-war Europe and who are seeking to recover assets still believed to be held by banks in Switzerland. Of these Swiss bank account claims, the HCPO has received more than 2, 200 claims from 30 different countries referencing over 3,200 individuals.

If anyone has any questions or would like to submit a claim they should call the Holocaust Claims Processing Office at 1-800- 695-3318 or visit the Banking Department's website at www.banking.state.ny.us.

 

 

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