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Swiss banks find 4,000 old accounts

Swiss banking officials said on Monday that a further search of their archives had turned up 4,000 more unclaimed accounts that belonged to foreigners before and during the Holocaust era, twice the number they had discovered and published in July.

The accounts contain about $4 million, meaning that the majority of them are quite small - though at least one account contained roughly $650,000. That figure is much smaller than the roughly $40 million that was contained in the July list.Officials of the Swiss Bankers Association said on Monday that it is impossible to know how many of these long-dormant accounts may have been opened by victims of the Holocaust or others who were trying to protect their family assets from seizure by the Nazis.

Still, the new lists, which will be available on the Internet on Oct. 29, are bound to set off a round of new discoveries about interactions between the Swiss banks, refugees from the Nazis and their persecutors.

Publication of the previous list of nearly 2,000 accounts followed nearly half a century of denials by Swiss banking officials that their institutions held more than a handful of accounts that may have been opened by Holocaust victims. And the publication has also led to the submission of more than 3,000 claims by individuals around the world who believe they may be entitled to the proceeds.

"This demonstrates that we are making good on our commitment to find every dormant account in our records," Christoph Meier, a spokesman for the Swiss Bankers Association, said in an interview.