U.S. legislators have charged struggling Swiss bank Credit Suisse with restricting the scope of an internal probe into Nazi clients and accounts tied to the organization, including those active until a few years ago.
The Senate Budget Committee criticized “incomplete” findings hampered by limitations and said that an independent ombudsman the bank had initially hired to monitor the investigation was “inexplicably terminated” as he was working.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization located in Los Angeles, came to light suspicions of potential Nazi-linked accounts at Credit Suisse in 2020. Credit Suisse stated it was “fully cooperating” with the committee’s investigation but denied other charges.
Despite the difficulties, the reports from the ombudsman and a forensic research team identified at least 99 stories of high Nazi leaders in Germany or members of organizations affiliated with the Third Reich in Argentina, the committee said on Tuesday. The majority of these accounts had not before been made public.
According to the committee, the findings “raise new questions about the bank’s potential support for Nazis fleeing justice after World War II via so-called ‘Ratlines,'” a network of escape routes used by Nazis after the war.
According to the committee, Credit Suisse “has pledged to continue its investigation into remaining unanswered questions.”
“Righteous justice requires that we search every possible source when looking into Nazi-related issues. Credit Suisse has fallen short of that benchmark, according to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the panel’s top-ranking Republican.
The budget committee is “leaving no stone unturned when it comes to investigating Nazis and seeking justice for Holocaust survivors and their families, and we commit to seeing this investigation through,” said its chairman Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is named for the Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter, claimed to know that the bank maintained likely Nazi-linked accounts that had not previously been disclosed, including during a series of Holocaust-related conferences. This prompted Credit Suisse to initiate the internal probe.
Swiss banks agreed to pay around $1.25 billion to Nazi victims and their relatives in the latter part of that decade after they accused the banks of stealing, concealing, or giving the Nazis Jewish property worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to Credit Suisse, its two-year investigation into the concerns the Simon Wiesenthal Center raised found “no evidence” to back up the claims “that many people on an Argentine list of 12,000 names had accounts at Schweizerische Kreditanstalt” — the company’s predecessor — during the Nazi era.
The examination, according to the statement, “fundamentally confirms existing research on Credit Suisse’s history published in the context of the 1999 Global Settlement that provided binding closure for the Swiss banks regarding all issues relating to World War II.”