CHASE ACKNOWLEDGES ONE OF
ITS PREDECESSOR BANKS HELPED NAZIS
by AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
February 23, 2000
NEW YORK, February 22 (AFP) - The Chase Manhattan Corporation on Tuesday admitted that the Chase National Bank helped the Nazi regime in Germany amass US dollars from August 1936 to June 1941. Executives expressed dismay that the bank carried out this action adding that they have a responsibility to make this information public and wish to apologize.
Current management learned of Chase National's activities through an investigation into the operations of its predecessor banks during World War II. During the probe, which began in 1998, thousands of publicly available documents located in the United States and Europe were examined.
Chase recalled that in the mid-1930s, governments did not accept German currency in exchange for goods and services. As a result, Germany created a category of "blocked" marks that could only be used in Germany but were worthless in international trade.
A scheme known as the Rueckwanderer Program, a "rueckwanderer" being someone who has left but who may return, if a German-American wanted to return to Germany they would be able to exchange US dollars for the "blocked" marks at favorable rates.
The German government, according to Chase, thereby obtained US dollars that it could use to purchase goods. The bank added that historical records suggest that some of the German marks used in the program may have come from the forced sale of assets by Jewish refugees leaving Germany. Chase National Bank was one of several banks that provided US banking services for the program. The German government raised approximately $25 to 35 million dollars under the program.
It estimated Chase National Bank's commissions from its participation in the program at $280,000 when the US government froze all German assets in the United States.
Following an investigation in the 1940s, a grand jury was convened in New York to consider whether the program violated then-existing neutrality laws, but no indictment was ever issued, according to Chase. In addition, the US Senate held hearings in 1944 during which the Rueckwanderer Program and Chase National Bank's involvement in it were discussed in detail but no action was ever taken against Chase National.
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