Sunday, September 28, 2003

Apartheid claims widened

Salzburg - US attorney Ed Fagan is to file lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in compensation from Swiss banks on behalf of victims of the apartheid regime this week, he said on Tuesday. Fagan, who was heckled by a crowd in the heart of Zurich's financial centre as he sought to present a case against Switzerland's two leading banks on Monday, said the incident had provided new material for an additional claim. "The defendants provided the plaintiffs with new and additional information about their involvement and their possession of documents related to their business dealings with the apartheid administration," he said in a statement. The lawsuit claims reparations from UBS, Credit Suisse and US banking group Citibank, on behalf of four victims of apartheid. In the late 1990s, Fagan played a leading role in pressing compensation claims against Swiss banks by Holocaust survivors, triggering international pressure on Switzerland to account for its record during World War II. The banks are accused of "profiteering" under the apartheid regime. They have also been accused of helping to prop up white-only rule in South Africa by continuing to do business with the authorities there after 1985. - Sapa-AFP