Inquiry reveals UK role in Nazi gold deal

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The Independent Online
An Official government inquiry will confirm this week that Britain was closely involved in a post-war deal to divide up a huge hoard of Nazi gold bullion, writes James Cusick.

According to the Labour MP Greville Janner, Britain will finally abandon its claim that "nothing was known" of the deal, and will in effect have to admit that the Bank of England has held its share of Nazi gold for half a century.

It was Mr Janner, a leading member of the Jewish community, who persuaded Malcolm Rifkind, the Foreign Secretary, to order the inquiry earlier this year. Senior archive officials from the Treasury, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office have been involved.

Their investigations took place as evidence mounted that in 1945 Britain, the US and Switzerland divided up between them some $400m in gold bullion that was lodged by the Nazis in Swiss bank vaults. Much of the gold is believed to have been stolen from Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Mr Janner said yesterday that the Rifkind inquiry would confirm Britain's role. "The results will show that Britain was involved heavily," he said. "I believe there will be no cover-up and that we have a moral obligation to hand back what is not ours, and what was stolen. We must accept it does not, never did, belong to Britain."

Between 1938 and 1945 it is believed the Nazis placed more than $6bn worth of assets in Swiss banks. Last week, the World Jewish Congress said that documents it had uncovered in the US proved the existence of a Nazi plot to use some of this looted gold to finance attempts to establish a Fourth Reich.

Trail of gold, page 14

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