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Governor Pataki Sending Banking Superintendent to Switzerland

New York, February 6, 1997

Governor Pataki and Superintendent Levin held a press conference this afternoon in Manhattan. The Governor's Office issued the following press release at the event.

GOVERNOR PATAKI SENDING BANKING SUPERINTENDENT TO SWITZERLAND Meeting with Swiss Bankers Part of Intense Probe into Actions During World War II

Governor George Pataki today announced he is sending State Banking Superintendent Neil D. Levin to Switzerland to meet with top Swiss bank officials as the next phase of the State's investigation into the New York activities of two Switzerland-based banks during World War II.

"New Yorkers have a right to know if assets from Holocaust victims were hidden from their families, particularly if banks operating in our state were part of any scheme to defraud survivors who tried to protect their assets from the Nazis," Governor Pataki said.

"I am sending Superintendent Levin to Switzerland in an effort to uncover the truth and express in the strongest way possible that I will not rest until we are confident that the survivors of the Holocaust have received every last measure of justice that they are entitled to," the Governor said.

"Senator D'Amato has shown strong leadership in fighting for justice for the Holocaust victims and survivors. By bringing this issue to light, and continuing his relentless pursuit of the truth, Senator D'Amato has once again demonstrated his commitment to the Jewish community and all New Yorkers who demand answers to these deeply disturbing questions," Governor Pataki said. "I am confident Superintendent Levin's investigation will play a critical role in reaching the truth and healing a wound that has been allowed to fester for far too long."

Governor Pataki said the State Banking Department has recently intensified its four-month investigation into the activities of New York-based offices of Swiss Bank Corp. and Credit Suisse in light of continuing revelations spurred by Senator D'Amato's efforts.

Banking Superintendent Levin will begin combing Swiss Bank Corp. and Credit Suisse records from 1939 to 1945 relating to deposits and assets maintained at their New York offices.

Superintendent Levin requested access to those records in January as part of an inquiry he launched in October. As a result of the finding of a preliminary review of recently declassified documents and Banking Department records, Governor Pataki accepted Superintendent Levin's recommendation to intensify the investigation.

"Governor Pataki has made it clear that he expects a full and thorough investigation into the New York activities of Swiss banks during World War II," Superintendent Levin said.

"We will comb every record, follow every lead regardless of where it takes us and do everything within our power to reach the truth," the Superintendent said. "When I meet with top Swiss bank officials, I will make it clear: All of us, but especially Holocaust survivors and victims' families, deserve the truth. I expect and hope they will cooperate in that discovery."

Superintendent Levin will be in Switzerland within the next two weeks to meet with senior management at Swiss Bank Corp., which opened its New York office in July 1939, and Credit Suisse, which established its New York agency in May 1940, Banking Department records show.

Superintendent Levin said the trip is intended to gain cooperation from the Swiss banks in the Banking Department's investigation into their New York activities.

In addition, Superintendent Levin will meet with representatives of the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, also known as the Volcker Commission, to get a clear understanding of the Commission's efforts, and, if possible, coordinate the Commission and Banking Department's efforts.

The meeting follows up on a January 24 meeting Superintendent Levin had at his offices with Commission chairman Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

"I believe that Edgar Bronfman said it best when he said, 'It was abhorrent enough that six million Jews were murdered simply because they were Jews; but that it turns out that this was also the greatest robbery in the history of the world repels us even more,'" Governor Pataki said. "All civilized people stand together for a full accounting from the Swiss banks."


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