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SWISS REJECT CLAIM BY JEWISH CONGRESS ON $3 BILLION IN GOLD LOOTED BY NAZIS

Switzerland rejected the findings of a report Tuesday by the World Jewish Congress that said the Alpine nation still owes as much as $3 billion from its wartime trade in Nazi-looted gold.

The report increases the pressure on the Swiss government to make more payments for gold traded between neutral Switzerland and Adolf Hitler's Germany during the Nazi era.

The Swiss government has repeatedly refused to pay further compensation for its Nazi gold dealings, insisting it met its obligations in a 1946 agreement with the United States, France and Britain.

Under that accord, Switzerland paid $58 million -- now worth about $580 million -- toward European reconstruction and the Allies agreed to drop any further claims against the Swiss government.

The World Jewish Congress report "completely ignores this legally binding agreement which settled the issue of looted gold," said Marie-Marceline Kurmann, spokeswoman for a government task force coordinating action on the Holocaust era.

"The task force totally rejects the claim that Switzerland owes $2 billion or even $3 billion in connection with the gold business during World War II," she said.

The report says the Nazis stole at least $850 million in gold -- worth $8.5 billion today -- from Holocaust victims, occupied countries and businesses between 1933 and 1945.

About three-quarters of the looted gold came from the Central Banks of occupied countries, and the rest was in the form of jewelry and other valuables looted from private businesses and citizens.

About $275 million worth of gold looted outside Germany made its way into Switzerland, while another $100 million was seized from German citizens.

That total is worth about $3.75 billion today.

"After subtracting out the modest postwar payment, Switzerland would now have to pay some $2 billion to $3 billion" in further compensation, the World Jewish Congress report said.

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