Swiss National Bank named as defendant in Ustashi treasure trial

The headquarters of the Swiss National Bank in Berne Keystone

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has been named in a class action suit before the US Federal District Court in San Francisco. The plaintiffs are victims of Croatia's Ustashi regime during the Second World War.

This content was published on September 14, 2000

The Vatican Bank and the Franciscan Order are named as the main defendants of the class action suit. On August 30, the court allowed the plaintiffs to add the names of the SNB and unidentified banks in Switzerland, Austria, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany.

The plaintiffs say the Vatican Bank, the Franciscans, the SNB and the other banks hid valuables and other "treasures" stolen from murdered victims of the Ustashi regime.

The Nazi puppet state murdered up to 700,000 Serbs.

American State Department documents show the SNB received gold and silver deliveries from Croatia. These documents also say most of it was stolen from victims of the Ustashi.

The plaintiffs want the SNB to explain what happened to these valuables after the war, and have them returned.

One of the plaintiffs lawyers, Jonathan Levy, said some of the "treasures" might have been sent to Argentina with the help of the Vatican Bank, where thousands of Ustashi war criminals and their sympathisers hid after the war.

The lawsuit also demands that the SNB bank hand over any information about Vatican accounts in Switzerland.

It was thought that Swiss banks, including the SNB, were safe from future litigation concerning the Second World War, after an agreement reached between the banks and Jewish organisations.

However, the court in San Francisco decided to allow the lawsuit because the Serb victims of the Croatian fascist regime do not belong to any of the "classes" of victims mentioned in the agreement.

swissinfo with agencies

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Weekly top stories

Keep up to date with the best stories from SWI on a range of topics, straight into your mailbox.


The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.