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Leading Swiss banker Robert Holzach dies at 86

March 26, 2009
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KUESNACHT, Switzerland—Robert Holzach, one of the best-known Swiss bankers of the last century and the focus of an anti-Semitism probe after retirement, has died. He was 86.

Holzach died Tuesday after a short hospital stay, according to a death notice from his family

Educated as a lawyer, he worked for the Union Bank of Switzerland over four decades, starting as an intern in 1951. He became chairman in 1980, and honorary chairman after resigning eight years later.

UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, praised Holzach for considerably shifting UBS' focus in the 1970s and 1980s, and launching important Swiss cultural restoration projects.

After he retired, Holzach was investigated by Swiss prosecutors over a 1997 article in The New Yorker magazine.

Longtime staff writer Jane Kramer paraphrased Holzach as saying "a Jewish conspiracy" to take over the world's largest financial institutions was behind criticism of Swiss banks over unclaimed assets of Holocaust victims.

He denied making any anti-Semitic references, which are punishable under Swiss anti-racism law, and the case was eventually dropped.

Holzach is survived by his wife and sister.

A funeral service will be held Monday in St. Peter's Church in Zurich.

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