NIS 240 million in Bank Leumi shares belong to Holocaust victims

By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent

One percent of the shares of Bank Leumi, equal to NIS 240 million, are still in the name of tens of thousands of Jews who were killed during the Holocaust, according to a report submitted last week to the Custodian General. It had previously been estimated that thousands of Jewish Holocaust victims held accounts in Leumi, but it is now apparent that about 20 percent of the shares of the Jewish Colonial Trust (JCT), Bank Leumi’s parent company, are in the name of Holocaust victims.

A law passed last year stipulates that stocks in the name of Holocaust victims are to be transferred to a state company, the Organization for the Restitution of Assets of Holocaust Victims, which is to transfer it to the heirs. The chairman of the company’s board of directors, Avraham Roth, proposes selling the shares and using two-thirds of the proceeds for immediate aid to needy Holocaust survivors. He proposes keeping the remaining third for heirs, since he believes heirs will not be found for more than one-third of the shares. He proposes the company and the state seek out the living and deceased owners of the stock, and at the same time sell the shares on the open market; two-thirds of the JCT stock is now worth more than NIS 300 million.