E&Y Joins Swiss Audit Effort
The Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC), the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP) and the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) announced a claims resolution process (CRP) for dormant accounts in Swiss banks. Such accounts may have belonged to victims of the Holocaust who were unable to claim their money after World War II. (See Attesting to History , JofA, Feb.97) Ernst & Young, through its office in Basle, Switzerland, is handling a key portion of the CRP by administering a list of dormant accounts for the benefit of Holocaust survivors and their heirs. Michael Bradfield, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who is acting as a counsel to the ICEP, told the Journal that this was not a traditional accounting job. However, he said an accounting firm was chosen for this task "because a CPA firm offers a certain credibility." Also, he said, E&Y has worldwide facilities capable of assistant claimants.
Meanwhile, the actual forensic investigators, Arthur Andersen, KPMG and Price Waterhouse, will commit "hundreds" of people to this audit, according to Bradfield. The preparatory phase is over, and the firms are beginning pilot audits that will lead to a final audit program covering all relevant Swiss banks. "Because of all the people involved, we hope to complete our task by the end of 1998," said Bradfield. Although he admitted some think this is "somewhat optimistic," he thinks it is highly realistic because of the forensic resources that will be devoted to the task.