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Swiss court orders stolen German millions returned

Switzerland's supreme court on Thursday ordered Austrian bank UniCredit to pay Germany over 254 million euros ($333 million) to end a legal battle dating back to the fall of the Berlin Wall two decades ago.

Swiss court orders stolen German millions returned
Swiss supreme court in Lausanne. Photo: Bundesgericht
The ruling, upholding an earlier verdict by a lower court, concerns the transfer into a Swiss bank of 128 million euros from the communist East Germany after the impoverished country's demise in 1990.
   
This transfer by Rudolfine Steindling, a colourful Austrian communist dubbed "Fini the Red" who died last year, was conducted by a former subsidiary of Bank Austria, itself now part of Italy's UniCredit.
   
In the 1990s Germany, by then reunified, complained that Steindling had no right to the money, which was amassed by East Germany charging fees from Western firms investing there, and that Bank Austria knew this.
   
In March 2010, a Swiss court in Zurich ruled in favour of the German state and ordered the bank to pay the 128 million euros plus five percent interest dating back to 1994.
   
Since East and West Germany were reunified in 1990, the country has launched dozens of lawsuits in various jurisdictions to try to recover money stashed by the former regime.

   
Bank Austria said Thursday that it has already set aside sufficient money 
to repay the money, except for 70 million euros, and that it now planned new legal proceedings against Germany.

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TRAVEL

Travel: Are neighbouring countries still open to Swiss tourists?

Borders between Switzerland and its neighbours are open. But given high coronavirus infection rates, border nations have tightened their entry requirements.

Travel: Are neighbouring countries still open to Swiss tourists?
Good old days in Paris. Photo by AFP

Yes, people from Switzerland can still to go to France, Germany, Italy and Austria, but it is not as easy as it was before the second wave of Covid-19 swept the entire region.

Of the four states bordering Switzerland, Austria is the easiest to enter.

For the time being, it does not restrict travellers from Switzerland. The borders remain open and no quarantine or Covid test is required for Swiss residents.

Like Austria, Italy has not to date implemented any access restrictions or quarantine requirements for Switzerland. The only condition set by the Italian authorities is that each person entering the country must complete a form declaring that they have not tested positive for Covid-19. Otherwise, it is necessary to observe a 14-day quarantine. 

However, before travelling south of the border keep in mind that Italian cinemas and theaters are closed, and restaurants must stop serving their customers at 6 pm. The authorities have also imposed a night curfew from 10 pm until 5 am.


READ MORE: How will lockdowns in France and Germany affect Swiss residents? 

 

France

Since October 30th, France has been in lockdown, which will last until at least December 1st. As such, travel on French territory is prohibited, except in well-defined cases — including trips to get to work, trips to buy essential goods, or trips for compelling family reasons — and on presentation of an ‘exit certificate’.

Germany

Unlike France, Germany has not implemented a new shutdown. However, restaurants, bars and leisure facilities like theaters and cinemas are closed until December.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said last week that the country's borders with its neighbours, including Switzerland, would remain open.

Gemany already placed Switzerland on its quarantine list on October 22nd, because Swiss Covid infection rates exceed those of its neighbour.

This means that anyone who enters from Switzerland must be tested on arrival in Germany. The tested person must then quarantine until the result comes through.

But the German state of Baden-Württemberg, which borders Switzerland, exempts Swiss arrivals from quarantine, under some conditions.

For example, those crossing the border from Switzerland to visit family and friends will be permitted to do so without quarantine, provided they do not stay longer than 48 hours. 

Baden-Württemberg's authorities are also allowing residents of Appenzell, Aargau, Basel, Basel-Country, Jura, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau and Zurich to come to Germany without being tested, as long as they stay no longer than 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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