Zurich – A South African lawyer said on Monday Swiss banks Credit Suisse and UBS were among those named in a lawsuit for allegedly encouraging human rights abuses by trading with South Africa during the racist apartheid regime.
In an interview with Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger published on Monday, lawyer Charles Abrahams said that together with US colleague Michael Hausfeld he would file a lawsuit in the United States on behalf of 85 victims of apartheid against various banks and firms.
Abrahams said they were also suing two banks and six firms in the United States, a bank and two companies in England, three banks and two firms in Germany and a French and Dutch firm.
The names of the other companies and banks were due to be announced at a news conference, which Abrahams said would take place on Tuesday in Johannesburg, jointly organised by victim support group Khulumani and Jubilee South Africa.
The suit is independent of a similar action filed by US lawyer Ed Fagan against banks, electronics manufacturers and mining firms whom he says helped finance South Africa’s racist regime.
“I can confirm that in terms of Switzerland it relates to Credit Suisse and UBS,” Abrahams said.
“The firms which we are suing allowed the main culprit – the apartheid state – to commit crimes against humanity,” Abrahams alleged.
The suit is based on the claim that the firms broke United Nations trade sanctions which had been imposed on the apartheid regime and therefore encouraged human rights abuses.
Abrahams added he hoped that an application made by Ed Fagan to combine the various apartheid suits into one action would be rejected in a decision due later this month.
“We would prefer two separate cases so that the strengths of each suit can be tested,” Abrahams said.