German trust sues Swiss bank over vanished money from former Communist East

BERLIN/ZURICH Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:19pm EDT

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BERLIN/ZURICH Aug 21 (Reuters) - A German trust responsible for managing the fortune of the former East German Communist state is suing Swiss bank Julius Baer over missing funds worth 135 million euros.

A spokesman for the BvS, the German agency chasing disappeared East German assets, said it had filed a complaint with the district court in Zurich on August 15 against Julius Baer, seeking to get its hands on Communist-era assets which disappeared after the Berlin Wall fell nearly 25 years ago.

A spokesman for Julius Baer referred to the bank's half-year report for comment. In it, the bank says it received payment orders from the BvS for 110 million Swiss francs plus interest.

Baer said the BvS claimed Bank Cantrade - which Baer acquired from UBS in 2005 - had allowed unauthorised withdrawals between 1989 and 1992 from the account of a foreign trade firm established by former officials of the German Democratic Republic.

Baer said the claim had been notified under the 2005 transaction agreement with UBS, regarding representations and warranties granted in respect of the acquired entities.

A spokesman for UBS declined to comment.

Asked why the trust had only now lodged a complaint, the BvS spokesman said it had been examining the situation and had awaited a verdict in a similar case against AKB Privatbank Z├╝rich AG.

"If we didn't think we would also succeed like in that case, we certainly wouldn't have made the effort to bring this lawsuit," the BvS spokesman said. (Reporting by Michelle Martin in Berlin and Joshua Franklin in Zurich; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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