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The New York State Department of Banking has opened a claims-processing office for Holocaust survivors and descendants searching for assets possibly held by European banks and insurance firms.

Survivors or their descendents who deposited assets in Swiss bank accounts between Jan. 1, 1933, and May 9, 1945 are urged to file a claim with the Holocaust Claims Processing Office.

"The legislation merely gives the state the authority to punish banks who are engaged in dishonest practices," said Assemblyman Richard Anderson, R-Amherst, who supported Assembly legislation that would allow the state to revoke the charter of banks that wrongly withheld money from the rightful owners.

Those seeking to file a claim can call the Holocaust office toll-free at 1-800-695-3318.

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