Tell that to the survivors: Most Jewish groups claim Holocaust victims own a total of $7 billion in assets and interest sitting untouched in Zurich vaults. "My 31,000 clients will not stand for this," said claimant lawyer Edward Fagan. Until now, Fagan believed a $1 billion deal was in the works -- and even that wouldn't have satisfied his clients.
Still, this does represent a significant shift on the Swiss banks' part. For years they've only owned up to a possible $32 million in unclaimed assets that "could have belonged to European Jews or other non-Swiss residents." But the big bankers have been severely embarrassed by recent revelations that the Nazis stashed concentration camp gold in secret Swiss accounts, and that trade with this nominally neutral nation helped prop up Germany's war effort. Will $600 million make the bad publicity go away? Not if the victims of that war effort have anything to do with it.