New York State
Insurance Department

SUPERINTENDENT LEVIN COMMENDS VOLCKER ACTION ON DORMANT SWISS ACCOUNTS


New York, September 30, 1997  

Superintendent of Insurance Neil D. Levin, Chairman of Governor Pataki's New York State Commission on the Recovery of Holocaust Victims' Assets, today applauded The Volcker Commission on its decision to establish a simplified Claims Settlement Process (CSP), which will ensure the proper disbursement of dormant Swiss bank accounts, reflecting the passage of more than 50 years. 

Prior to the Volcker Commission's decision today, the issue of bank-imposed fees and the banks' failure to pay accrued interest on these accounts was an unresolved issue. 

During his tenure as Superintendent of Banks, and when traveling to Switzerland earlier this year at the direction of Governor Pataki, Superintendent Levin called for the creation of a claims resolution system whereby Holocaust survivors and their heirs would be assured a timely resolution of their claims without encountering excessive legal obstacles. 

"I am particularly pleased to hear that the Volcker Commission will be appointing experienced arbitrators, putting into place a fast-track procedure whereby claims will be resolved in an expeditious manner," Superintendent Levin stated. The CSP's Board of Trustees, who are also members of the Volcker Commission, include the group's Chairman Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Israel Singer, Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress, and Rene Rhinow, a Senator in the upper house of the Swiss Parliament. The Board of Trustees will appoint up to 15 foreign and Swiss arbitrators with experience in international adjudication to hear these claims under relaxed standards of proof, recognizing the difficulty of presenting evidence from the Holocaust era. 

"When I met with the Swiss Bankers Association this past May, I urged them to consider the advantages of an arbitration process," Superintendent Levin said. "In this way, both sides could cut through the red tape inherent in resolving these claims in places other than a courtroom. The Volcker Commission's announcement is a bold step in the right direction." 

The Holocaust Claims Processing Office, a division within the New York State Banking Department, opened in September 1997 and has already received almost 1,000 claims, he noted.

"This Office and the Governor's Commission on the Recovery of Holocaust Victims' Assets will continue to work closely with the Volcker Commission to ensure a just and timely resolution of all legitimate claims," Superintendent Levin concluded. 

The Governor has directed Superintendent Levin to continue to monitor this issue closely in the months ahead.


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