Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank Scandal: Building on Atrocity

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Hundreds of protestors gathered in Belgrade to voice their anger at the Hypo Alpe-Adria bankÂ?s recent acquisition of confiscated property unjustly seized during the post-WWII period. Victims of both Nazi and Communist terror united before the bankÂ?s headquarters in Belgrade.

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Hypo Alpe-Adria bank of Austria is in trouble again. Not learning from their questionable activities in 2000 and 2003, which linked them to neo-fascist money transfers from Libya and the sponsorship of Croatian skier Ivica Kostelic a vocal sympathizer of Hitler's Germany, the financial institution faces renewed charges of unscrupulous business practices. This time the victim is Serbia.

The controversy was sparked when Hypo Consultants board member Boris Ignjatovic announced in various daily papers of the Serbian press his company’s intent to build on the famous “Three Tobacco Leaves” site in Belgrade despite widespread knowledge that the vacant lot is claimed by American suvivors of Nazi crimes and eligible for restitution once Serbian parliament passes a law on denationalization scheduled for June 2006.

Hundreds of protestors gathered before the Belgrade headquarters of HYPO Bank protesting the Serbian Government’s current lack of property restitution laws which would return real-estate expropriated by the Nazi and Communist parties to original owners. Citizens are outraged because there are no Serbian laws on the books which protect the existing state of claimed properties even though a property registration process has just passed parliamentary vote. Without status protection companies such as HYPO group can try and grab attractive locations in a race to build before claimants regain rightful ownership of their land.

The Network for Restitution (NFR), a nonprofit citizen's group in Serbia, offers support and free legal advice for Holocaust and Communist terror survivors trying to regain confiscated homes from the W.W.II era. NFR organized the protest against the HYPO bank group to coincide with the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD has given loans to the HYPO Group in the past.

The US Embassy in Belgrade is well aware of this ongoing situation, and has been working continuously with American citizen claimants to help protect their rights from being prejudiced and complicated by investors such as the Hypo Alpe-Adria Group.

Complaints are being filed with the appropriate international monitoring agencies to investigate HYPO group’s involvement with the Belgrade project and its possible infringement of EU codes of behavior for EU member businesses in developing economies.

photos and more info at:     http://nyc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/151004/index.php

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