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Switzerland's Julius Baer books $153 million charge in East German assets case

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By Reuters
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ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss private bank Julius Baer <BAER.S> is setting aside 153 million Swiss francs (119 million pounds) to cover demands made by a German government agency seeking to recover East German assets that went missing after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Zurich Court of Appeal this week ruled in favor of a claim by the German agency tasked with overseeing the remains of East German enterprises, for 97 million francs plus interest since 2009.

Baer said in a statement published late on Wednesday it would appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, but was protectively booking the charges in case it winds up being forced to pay.

The Zurich court originally sided with Julius Baer in 2018, but was forced to reconsider its verdict this year when the Swiss Federal Supreme Court sent it back to be reheard after concluding there were “obvious shortcomings” in the bank’s handling of the funds.

The German lawsuit relates to withdrawals nearly 30 years ago from an account established by former German Democratic Republic officials at Zurich-based Bank Cantrade, which Julius Baer bought from UBS in 2005.

Julius Baer said it would claim any final amount it would have to pay from UBS under the terms of a related transaction agreement of 2005.

UBS declined to comment.

(Reporting by John Miller, Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)