Government to investigate Holocaust assets claim

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The Independent Online
The Government is to investigate allegations that it owes thousands of pounds to Holocaust victims held in bank accounts frozen during the Second World War, it was disclosed last night. A Foreign Office spokesman said they would be launching the inquiry after the claims were made in research commissioned by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and in research by the Israeli magazine Globes.

The HET commissioned research into unclaimed bank accounts seized by the Government under the 1939 Trading with the Enemy Act. The full report, based on information from the Public Record Office and Britain's clearing banks, is expected next month. The HET says thousands of Holocaust victims who were based in Nazi-occupied territory continue to battle to recover their assets because of "harsh" rules introduced by the Government after the war. They say paperwork asked for as proof of ownership was "impossible" for many victims to produce, resulting in approximately 30 per cent of all claims being rejected and less than pounds 1m being returned. The victims were "ignorantly and insensitively" questioned by British officials when they tried to recover their assets, it was alleged.