The Konformist

January 2001

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News for Immediate Release


January 03, 2001

Easton & Levy, Attorneys

Jonathan Levy

(513) 528-0586


The Vatican Bank, which purports to be part of the Vatican and has been caught up in Holocaust era restitution lawsuits in federal courts in California since November 1999, is attempting to have a California law designed to help elderly Holocaust surviviors achieve resolution of Nazi slave labor claims within their lifetimes declared unconstitutional. The law permits victims of World War II slave labor camps to file claims in California courts until year 2010. The Vatican Bank is asking the court dismiss all Holocaust slave labor claims in California.

A lawsuit, Alperin v. Vatican Bank, filed in November 1999 by Serb, Jewish, and Ukrainian Holocaust survivors against the Vatican Bank seeks return of Nazi loot stolen from wartime Yugoslavia which included the profits of slave labor. According to a 1998 US State Department report, the money known as the Ustasha Treasury, is thought to have been concealed in the Vatican and used in part to fund the escape of Nazi war criminals to South America.

The Vatican Bank is based in Vatican City and conducts worldwide banking operations. Its Board includes Cardinal Maida of Detroit and the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Sodano, one of the highest-ranking members of the Cardinals' College. According to one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Jonathan Levy, "I find the conduct of the Vatican incomprehensible. On the one hand the Pope preaches forgiveness while his Cardinals and Bank seek to overturn a law that helps thousands of elderly survivors in all sorts of claims, not just the ones against the Vatican Bank. One wonders who is in charge at the Holy See?"

The lawsuits in California against the Vatican Bank seek an accounting to determine the status of the disputed funds and then restitution if needed. Federal Judge Maxine M. Chesney has ordered the Vatican Bank's attorney to officially notify the California Attorney General of the challenge to the constitutionality of Code of Civil Procedure section 354.6 by January 6, 2001.


For more information contact:

Jonathan Levy

Tel. 513-528-0586

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