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Major Swiss bank hampered internal probe into Nazi-linked accounts, US senators say

Senate committee says it opened investigation after receiving 'credible allegations of potential wrongdoing'

The logo of Credit Suisse on a building near the Hallenstadion where Credit Suisse Annual General Meeting took place, two weeks after being bought by rival UBS in a government-brokered rescue, in Zurich, Switzerland, April 4, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Pierre Albouy)

A committee of U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday said troubled Swiss bank, Credit Suisse Group, hampered a multi-year investigation into the servicing of Nazi clients and Nazi-linked accounts.

Credit Suisse commissioned an investigation of allegations levied by a human rights organization, claiming that the bank held potential Nazi-linked accounts and failed to disclose them, even during Holocaust-related probes decades earlier. The Senate committee's recent investigation into the matter found the bank hindered the probe with restrictions and "inexplicably terminated" an independent reviewer overseeing it.

The "information we've obtained shows the bank established an unnecessarily rigid and narrow scope, and refused to follow new leads uncovered during the course of the review," Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement.

Credit Suisse defended its internal review in a statement, saying that the probe turned up no evidence to support key claims from the Simon Wiesenthal Center that dormant accounts serviced by the bank held assets from Holocaust victims.

A representative for AlixPartners, the consulting firm Credit Suisse hired for the probe, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

But the Senate committee said more work needs to be done to track down the value of assets of certain accounts held by Nazis at the bank in the post-1945 period.

The committee said in a statement it had opened its own investigation after receiving "credible allegations of potential wrongdoing" related to the internal probe, including the termination of the ombudsman overseeing it.

A spokesperson for the ombudsman, Neil Barofsky, declined to comment. His report, which the committee obtained via a subpoena, found many questions were left "unanswered" after Credit Suisse decided to halt the review.

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