clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

N.Y. draws protests over ban on bank

The State Department is protesting New York City's refusal to let a Swiss bank take part in a $1 billion bond offering because of a dispute over missing assets of Holocaust victims.

City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi's decision to cancel Union Bank of Switzerland's participation in a $1.3 million letter of credit arrangement was ill-timed and vengeful, the State Department said Friday.Department spokesman James Rubin called the move counterproductive, saying it came at a time when Swiss banks are taking significant steps to rectify the loss of millions of dollars worth of Jewish-owned Swiss bank accounts that fell into Nazi hands during World War II.

Hevesi, who is running for re-election with only token opposition next month, defended his decision.

"This was a decision that had to be made," Hevesi said. "If we had done business as usual, we would have been rewarding UBS."

Hevesi was among those who complained earlier this year when Union Bank fired a guard, Christoph Meili, who revealed that the bank had destroyed Holocaust-era documents. Meili's lawyers claim the documents raised suspicions that Swiss banks were involved in the forced sales of Jewish property in Nazi Germany.

Richard C. Capone, executive vice president of the bank's Americas region, accused Hevesi of a vindictive campaign at a time when the bank is trying to resolve the account controversy.

"Swiss banks are working extremely hard and providing leadership in resolving the World War II dormant account issue fairly and with sensitivity," Capone said.