Grassley: Credit Suisse Must Embrace Sunlight In Review Of Nazi-Linked Accounts
Floor Remarks by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Budget Committee
"Credit Suisse Must Fully Investigate Historic Servicing of Nazi Clients"
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Earlier this year, Chairman Whitehouse and I began bipartisan work to investigate Credit Suisse’s historical servicing of Nazi-linked accounts. Today, I’d like to discuss this important bipartisan work and thank him and his staff for their assistance on this topic.
In March of 2020, the Simon Wiesenthal Center notified Credit Suisse that it found previously undisclosed information relating to the bank’s Nazi ties. The bank, to its credit, initially took steps in the right direction and agreed to investigate.
It retained a research firm to conduct a forensic review. It retained former TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky to oversee that review as an Independent Ombudsperson and former U.S. Envoy Ira Forman as an Independent Advisor.
But, after Credit Suisse hired a new General Counsel, it paused its review, limited experts’ access to records, and terminated Barofsky and Forman. The bank cited “performance issues” for the terminations. However, the then-General Counsel’s predecessor never expressed those concerns and the bank’s research firm described Barofsky as professional.
Barofsky drafted a report about what he observed and found, as he was contractually obligated to do.
So, Chairman Whitehouse and I issued the Budget Committee’s first subpoena since 1991 to obtain that report.
Credit Suisse had prevented Barofsky from providing us a fully unredacted report. Ultimately, we not only obtained that report fully unredacted but also the bank’s own report.
So, what did we find?
Credit Suisse didn’t review and investigate all relevant records. For example, Credit Suisse didn’t use a full dataset from its predecessor banks. It inconsistently collected and reviewed information such as account balances.
Credit Suisse failed to review allegations that Nazi heirs had sought access to bank accounts. When the review pointed to evidence of wrongdoing beyond Argentina, Credit Suisse stated the information was “out of scope” and didn’t investigate.
Even with those limitations, the reports revealed new information, including nearly 100 previously undisclosed Nazi-linked accounts. Some accounts remained open as recently as the year 2020.
And when we finally got an unredacted version, it showed evidence that 64,000 sets of potentially relevant records related to Nazi-linked accounts are not part of the investigation. Credit Suisse claims they’re irrelevant without sufficient explanation.
Credit Suisse also blocked its independent oversight that included Barofsky, Forman, and also a historian hired to assist the investigation from accessing critical evidence.
The reports also raised new questions about the bank’s potential support for Nazis fleeing justice following World War II via the infamous Ratlines. Until pressured by Chairman Whitehouse and me, Credit Suisse had refused to fully investigate allegations of its potential role aiding Nazis’ escape from justice via the Ratlines.
To date, despite multiple requests, Credit Suisse still refuses to share exact details on the scope of its ongoing Ratlines review. This is unacceptable.
And you know what else is unacceptable? Credit Suisse’s actions after we made those reports public. The bank issued a press release on April 18 of this year filled with one excuse after another. The bank’s press release essentially ignored its own report.
It also incorrectly claimed full cooperation with the committee’s oversight, despite the bank objecting to the committee receiving a fully unredacted copy of the Barofsky report until July 31 and despite failing to provide a full scope of the Ratlines review.
Seems to me that the bank is trying to silence a prominent Jewish Human Rights organization. Ironically, as the bank continues down this road, it appears to be creating a modern-day David versus Goliath story.
Notably, it was the bank that initiated the new review that I’ve discussed here today. Credit Suisse acknowledged the potential for the investigation to result in settlements or restitution. The fact the bank has since agreed to finally review its reported role with the Ratlines also shows we’re dealing whole with a new set of facts.
But, let’s take a step back. I’ve listed numbers and figures. Let’s not forget that we’re talking about real people – victims of the atrocities perpetrated during the Holocaust. Credit Suisse, and now UBS as its new owner, must embrace the sunlight – which is the best disinfectant.
So, here’s my advice: accept the historical facts and own them. Play a positive role in exposing the historical evils of the Nazis once and for all.
Credit Suisse and now UBS has a responsibility to expose all information related to its historic servicing of Nazis during and following World War II. They owe it to Holocaust victims, survivors and to the world community.
This information is critical to a more complete record, and it will allow us to learn from history to create a more peaceful, just future.
We must learn from history to prevent the mistakes of the past from repeating. Simon Wiesenthal once said, “Justice for crimes against humanity must have no limitations.”
I encourage Credit Suisse and UBS to bring this matter to a positive conclusion worthy of history’s eyes.
I yield the floor.
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