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NO. R-164. JOINT RESOLUTION REQUESTING THAT THE SWISS GOVERNMENT CONTINUE ITS EFFORTS TO IDENTIFY AND PROVIDE RESTITUTION OF THE BANK ACCOUNTS AND GOLD ASSETS OF NAZI HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS AND THEIR HEIRS.

(J.R.H. 120)

Offered by: Representatives Corren of Burlington, Barbieri of Wallingford, Buchdahl of Georgia, Dwyer of Thetford, Snyder of Pittsford, Woodward of Johnson and Zuckerman of Burlington.

Whereas, in the years prior to World War II, with the increasingly ominous threat of a Nazi European conquest looming ever closer on the horizon, thousands of European Jews and others entrusted their financial assets to the supposed security of the Swiss banking system, and

Whereas, many of these depositors were murdered during the Nazi Holocaust and left no heirs, and

Whereas, for many years following the conclusion of World War II, these accounts laid dormant in the secret labyrinth of the Swiss banking system while the Swiss bankers and government made only minimal and very half-hearted efforts to locate their rightful owners, and

Whereas, only in 1962 did the Swiss National Council (Parliament) enact legislation to implement a side letter agreement to the 1946 Allied-Swiss "Washington Accord" that established a mechanism to review Holocaust survivors' claims to these funds, and even then the Swiss government could only account for a minuscule $5.2 million in dormant funds, and nearly all of the approximately 7,000 claims were rejected, and

Whereas, allegations that Swiss banks have continued to hold large sums of monetary and gold assets that rightfully belong to Holocaust survivors and their heirs have garnered increasing attention, resulting in a February 5, 1996 memorandum of understanding between Jewish organizations and the Swiss Bankers Association to establish an independent commission to be directed by former Federal Reserve Board Chair, Paul Volcker, and

Whereas, the Swiss government initiated its own investigations that have resulted in the

temporary suspension of Switzerland's banking secrecy laws in order to assist in the search for unclaimed deposits, and

Whereas, in the summer of 1997, the Swiss government released the most comprehensive list to date of the names of dormant account owners from the World War II era, and

Whereas, despite continuing problems, as a sign of good faith, a resolution was adopted at the 1997 International Conference on the Recovery and Return of Dormant Holocaust-Related Swiss Bank Accounts and Hidden Assets, calling for the suspension of any sanctions against Switzerland until at least April 1, 1998, now therefore be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives and Senate:

That the Vermont General Assembly strongly urges the government of Switzerland to continue its recent efforts, in concert with all other interested nations and victims' responsibility groups, to locate the owners, or their survivors, of dormant World War II bank accounts and other financial assets, and to provide compensation to needy elderly survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to

the President of the United States, the United States Secretary of State, the United States Ambassador to Switzerland, Madeleine Kunin, the Swiss Ambassador to the United States and to the members of Vermont's Congressional Delegation.