Swiss banks are once again in for great problems. Today, information appeared that American attorney Ed Fagan is ready to file a suit on behalf of a group of South Africans in the court of Manhattan. Claims are being raised against the two largest banks of Switzerland, UBS and Credit Suisse. Eighty Africans, whose interests are defended by Fagan, believe that the bankers supported the apartheid regime of the South African Republic.
Bank representatives, in their turn, made haste to state they know nothing about Fagan’s suit. They think it is nonsense to impose responsibility for racist crimes on bankers. However, the bankers are cunning, as the suit that is soon to appear in the Manhattan court is not a surprise for them at all. Ed Fagan has been investigating the case for several years already. In November 2001, he discussed in an interview to Le Temps the juridical procedures of Apartheid victims vs. Western financial institutions and companies, including those from Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, France, and the USA. In the words of the attorney, South-African non-governmental organizations, lawyers, politicians, and historians asked him to plead the case. No exact sum of possible compensations to be demanded from the Swiss banks have been announced. It is supposed only that the sum may make up tens of billions of dollars. Mr. Fagan says that the banks have probably prepared for this kind of case long ago, as it was clear that sooner or later their role in the Apartheid regime would be disclosed. Very likely, the case is based on illegally obtained earnings. According to Fagan’s forecasts, Swiss banks may soon have more problems connected with increasing pressure concerning demands for the cancellation of bank secrecy for a more effective struggle with “black accounts” of terrorists.
It should be mentioned here that chances for the Africans to win the case are rather high. Ed Fagan is the attorney who successfully completed the case on compensations to Holocaust victims. Therefore, this man is rather experienced concerning such cases; moreover, sympathies of majority of people are sure to be on his side as well. To make the case especially successful, Mr. Fagan will try to make it public.
Therefore, Swiss banks are in trouble once again, trouble with which they will not be able to cope very soon. In addition, the banks should settle the case with minimum damage to their business image. However, neither UBS nor Credit Suisse know a way out so far. There is another famous lawyer, Michael Housfeld, who is going to file a similar action independently of Ed Fagan. Therefore, the banks are in for big problems.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
In the photo: Ed Fagan
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/06/17/42761.html