Swiss whistle-blower claims hes broke, despite rewards

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By his own admission, however, Meili may have gotten into financial difficulties as a result of lavish spending habits.

Meili became something of a celebrity in Jewish circles after he blew the whistle on a leading Swiss bank.

He was making his rounds as a night watchman at the Union Bank of Switzerland in January 1997 when he discovered the Holocaust-era documents headed for the shredder.

Meili later stated that he was shocked to discover that the documents included financial records regarding bank accounts and other assets belonging to European Jews, many of whom had perished in the Holocaust.

He secretly turned over some of the records to a Jewish organization in Zurich — a move that created a storm of controversy in Switzerland, cost Meili his job and forced him to flee the country because of threats on his life.

In December 1999, a panel probing Swiss banks' handling of Holocaust-era dormant accounts said it found several instances in which individual banks destroyed records pertinent to its investigation.

In 1998, Meili accepted a full four-year scholarship at Chapman University, a private university in Southern California.

In addition, a group of Holocaust survivors known as the 1939 Club provided Meili with a $5,000 check each month to help him and his family with living expenses.

Meili also found a substantial source of income on the lecture circuit. At one such appearance last year at the Beverly Hills Hilton, Meili was presented with a $125,000 check.

But, he lamented in the Facts interview, "most of the money is already gone."

In a hint that his spending habits have not exactly been frugal, Meili told the magazine that during a trip to Italy last year, he spent more than $25,000.