Swiss Banks "Catching them with their pants down"
Henry Burstyner Address
At our May meeting, a large group was addressed by Henry Burstyner. Henry, property and commercial lawyer, is trying to uncover what has happened to Jewish funds placed in Swiss Banks for safekeeping before and during World War II.
The evening began with excerpts from recently screened "60 Minutes" interviews with Henry and two of his clients. Henry became involved in these matters after placing two advertisements in the Australian Jewish News, declaring his intent to assist Holocaust Survivors with claims on Swiss Banks. He received 500 responses.
A number of people do not know how much was deposited. Unless access to the accounts is gained, there is no way of knowing the extent of the deposits - some of it was gold bullion, some was cash. For example, the combined assets of an entire community of 3,000 was deposited in a Swiss Bank - this could be worth millions now.
Who will be the recipients if these claims are resolved? If direct descendants can't be traced then the assets should be shared amongst Jewish Welfare organisations around the world who are caring for Holocaust survivors.
Currently, Henry has 14 claims in front of the Swiss Banks, some with very strong claims. The banks are resisting at every turn. Unfortunately many of those initial 500 respondents did not have enough documentary evidence. Without the name of the bank, an account number, at least something to start with, the Banks just tell them to go away.
But Henry Burstyner won't go away. His dogged persistence and endless patience has meant that he is the only individual in the world to have broken through the Swiss walls of silence. He has managed to get some Swiss Bankers to the negotiating table for one of his clients and he is not going to give up till his client receives what is rightly his.
The banks are in "damage control" mode, not "let's make full restitution" mode, Henry explained. He emphasized that the money does not belong to the Swiss and they should never be allowed to keep it. The world must tell Switzerland they cannot keep this money.
To quote Henry: "The bottom lime is that we all should keep doggedly pursuing the Swiss banks until they have disgorged all their illicit gains. They should not be allowed to profit from the victims of the Holocaust."
If anyone you know has a claim and "a shred of hard evidence" you can email Henry at:
Swiss Bank Resources