The efforts of the Department of Financial Services to recover dormant or seized deposited assets (accounts or safe deposit boxes) of Holocaust victims grew out of an investigation into the wartime activities of the Swiss Bank Corporation(SBC), Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), and Credit Suisse’s New York Agencies. The goal of the investigation was to identify all the accounts held by those banks and determine to what extent assets held there belonged to victims of the Holocaust. Information uncovered was ultimately integrated into the work of the International Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP) in Switzerland.
Not only did the investigation uncover dormant assets but it highlighted the need for an agency to assist claimants with unresolved claims against Swiss financial institutions, and so in 1997 the HCPO was established. Before the August 1998 announcement of the Global Settlement in the Holocaust Victims Assets Litigation case (United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Chief Judge Edward R. Korman Presiding (CV-96-4849)), the HCPO worked in close cooperation with the Swiss banks, enabling payment of dormant accounts of the heirs of Holocaust victims.
The HCPO’s efforts, however, did not stop with Swiss financial assets. In the late 1990s the ever increasing number of class action law suits, settlement negotiations, investigative commissions, and the creation of compensation organizations related to European financial institutions during the Holocaust, resulted in the HCPO receiving claims for assets deposited in Austria, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.