Dr. Jonathan Levy and Tom Easton, Attorneys

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Vatican Fights to Keep Nazi Gold Lawsuit Out of US Courts

San Francisco

February 3, 2009


While the Vatican faces new charges of Holocaust denial over the Pope╩╝s pardon of Holocaust denier Bishop Williamson, it has also been fighting a little-known 10 year battle to protect the Vatican Bank from accountability for laundering Nazi loot after the Second World War.


The lawsuit, Alperin v. Vatican Bank, (9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Case: 08-16060) alleges the Vatican bank and Franciscan Order laundered tens of millions of dollars including concentration camp gold from former Yugoslavia immediately following the Second World War.


The case against the Vatican Bank (but not the Franciscan Order) was dismissed on grounds the Vatican Bank is an organ of a sovereign entity, the Vatican, which is immune from lawsuits.


The just filed appeal however argues that the Vatican Bank is not sovereign and engages in commercial activity in the United States and therefore should be held accountable in a United States Federal Court.


Attorneys for the plaintiffs, Holocaust survivors and their heirs including Serbs, Jews, and Roma, originally filed the lawsuit in 1999.  They are seeking an accounting and a return of the loot estimated to have been worth over $50 million dollars in 1946.


For a copy of the Appellate Brief


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