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US Senate Support Pedro Filipuzzi/Simon Wiesenthal research

Credit Suisse in Zurich (Wikipedia CC BY 4.0)
Credit Suisse in Zurich (Wikipedia CC BY 4.0)

Credit Suisse Maintained Nazi-Linked Accounts Into 21st Century, Subpoenaed Records Show. Bank limited scope of internal investigation and terminated Independent Ombudsperson, leaving blind spots in forensic search for Nazi-linked records, says the 18.4.2023 press release on Chuck Gressley’s page.

 

In March of 2020, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) notified Credit Suisse that it had credible information the bank held potential Nazi-linked accounts that had not previously been disclosed, including during the many Holocaust-related investigations of the 1990s.

In late 2022, Dr. Niels Barofsky was dismissed from Credit Suisse as ombudsman as soon he discovered at least 98 nazi accounts, explains to me Pedro Filipuzzi.

Key Findings

Credit Suisse appears to have maintained accounts, the vast majority of which have not previously been disclosed, for at least 99 individuals who were either senior Nazi officials in Germany or members of Nazi-affiliated groups in Argentina.

Seventy Argentine accounts with plausible links to Argentina-based Nazis were opened with Credit Suisse after 1945, and at least 14 of those accounts remained open into the 21st century—some even as recently as 2020.

AlixPartners identified 21 accounts from a list of notorious high-level Nazis provided by SWC, including one that belonged to a Nazi commander who was sentenced at Nuremberg and another belonging to an SS commander who was convicted. The sentenced commander’s account remained open until 2002, but the bank has not yet provided asset information from this account or from 85 other identified accounts.

The bank maintained accounts belonging to a German executive who was tried and acquitted at Nuremberg and a Nazi scientist who was imprisoned throughout the Nuremberg trials, among other accounts the bank had not previously discovered.

A senior SS officer and representative for Nazi company Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe GmbH (DWB) held an account at the bank. 

Barriers to Complete Investigation

In June 2022, Credit Suisse’s newly hired General Counsel Markus Diethelm temporarily paused the review after being briefed on the investigation. While AlixPartners was allowed to continue its work in October 2022, Mr. Barofsky received a termination notice in November 2022. Neither Mr. Diethelm’s predecessor nor AlixPartners had expressed any concerns with Mr. Barofsky’s performance. AlixPartners described its relationship with Mr. Barofsky to Committee staff as “professional.”

While Mr. Barofsky’s contract required that he produce a public report on his findings, the Committee obtained the report only after issuing a subpoena. Credit Suisse continues to object to its release despite the subpoena, and it has taken actions that have led Mr. Barofsky to decline to produce his entire report without certain redactions.

Credit Suisse did not review and investigate all relevant records and did not use a full dataset of the bank’s predecessor entities for portions of its review. As one example of the bank’s failure to review all relevant records, a record belonging to a Nazi living in Bolivia was excluded from the review because search parameters set by the bank automatically excluded accounts belonging to individuals in certain geographical areas, including Bolivia. Even after the discovery, Credit Suisse did not expand the search parameters. Legal entities were also excluded, potentially eliminating additional individuals and accounts associated with identified legal entities from the review.

Despite SWC’s request, Credit Suisse refused to review whether Nazi heirs had sought access to bank accounts.

During the investigation, Credit Suisse and Mr. Barofsky jointly reviewed four historical books on Nazi Ratline activities and together identified 366 names of individuals that Mr. Barofsky suggested be included in AlixPartners’s forensic review of Nazi-related accounts held at Credit Suisse. The bank, however, declined to add the names to the review despite, according to AlixPartners in conversations with Committee staff, the technical ease of doing so. As a result of the Committee’s investigation, Credit Suisse has pledged to further investigate its potential role in supporting Ratlines activities.

Related materials:

Letter from Ranking Member Grassley to Chairman Whitehouse (March 6, 2023)

Subpoena Cover Letter (March 14, 2023)

Subpoena (March 14, 2023)

Report of the Independent Ombudsperson and Independent Advisor to Credit Suisse (February 15, 2023)

First AlixPartners Investigation Report: Independent investigation of specific topics and questions raised by SWC related to the Second World War era (March 31, 2023)

About the Author
Alexandre Gilbert is the director of the Chappe gallery.
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