Major Israel Bank Sued for Refusing to Return Funds to Holocaust Survivors

Restitution group claims Bank Leumi holds 3,577 accounts that belong to Holocaust victims.

An Israel-based Holocaust restitution organization yesterday sued Bank Leumi, one of Israel's largest banks, for allegedly failing to return funds that belonged to Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims Assets sued Bank Leumi for NIS 300 million, and claims there are 3,577 accounts at Bank Leumi belonging to Holocaust victims. The bank disputes the claim, pointing to "errors" in the organization's facts and operations.

According to the lawsuit, the accounts belong to European Jews who deposited money in the Anglo-Palestine Bank, which later became Bank Leumi.

By holding onto the funds, Leumi "violated the law," according to the organization's chairman, Menachem Ariav. "We expect the bank's management to act to return the victims' property and help us correct a historical wrong that has lasted for 65 years," he said.

Within the lawsuit, the company also claims Leumi has consistently refused to cooperate with bodies requesting information about deposits that belonged to European Jews, and has refrained to disclose information about unclaimed funds in its possession.

Bank Leumi, headed by CEO Galia Maor, said in response that the claim is unfounded. "Leumi set up all the required resources in order to check the details which were given to it by the organization. It should be said that during the course of working with the organization, problems were found with its operations."