French Commission Includes Insurers in Report

April 20, 2000

The French Commission, headed by former Minister Jean Matteoli, which was established in 1997 to investigate the wrongful confiscation of Jewish property under the Vichy regime during World War II, has issued its long awaited report.

Although between 90 and 95 percent of the property, which included apartments, securities, businesses, bank accounts, fine furniture and works of art, was returned to owners or their heirs after the war, the Commission found that a significant amount of property hasn’t been restored, either as there were no claimants, or they have yet to be identified.

One of the Commission’s 19 recommendations specifically addressed concerns over property held by banks and insurers, characterizing the situation as very unclear. Those insurers and banks, that have refused to make interest payments on annuities and other obligations for various reasons, were singled out by the commission.

It recommended further study, and the possibility that future changes in company articles and by-laws, including merger agreements and buyouts should be made contingent on full disclosure of the status of any such unpaid liabilities.

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