Three fired here after phony claims uncovered; feds probing ‘sophisticated’ scheme.
The Claims Conference fired three employees last week who allegedly approved more than 100 fraudulent Holocaust-era claims — filed primarily by Russians now living in Brooklyn — that bilked the German government out of more than $350,000, The Jewish Week has learned.
A federal investigation has reportedly been launched but it is not known if the employees, one of whom was the supervisor of the Hardship Fund, were complicit in the fraud. The Claims Conference declined to reveal their names.
Should unclaimed Holocaust funds be used for anything other than first taking care of the needs of sick, aging survivors?
A growing debate over how perhaps billions of dollars in unclaimed Holocaust restitution and reparation funds should be spent will get its first public airing next week when 500 Jewish communal leaders from across the country meet in Baltimore.
In a change of course, the organization that disperses Holocaust restitution funds has decided to review the past financial practices of March of the Living, a Holocaust education group dogged by allegations of financial impropriety.
The Conference on Material Claims Against Germany confirmed Monday that it had instructed its chief auditor to examine allegations that March of the Living wrongly dispersed $709,000 to a politically connected consultant from 2002 through 2005.
A planned audit of March of the Living, a popular international Holocaust education group for teens, will not review the group’s past financial conduct despite allegations of past improprieties, The Jewish Week has learned.
The Conference of Material Claims Against Germany announced last month that it had begun an “in-depth audit” of March of the Living “to review whether any of the recent allegations are true.”
For some Holocaust survivors and their supporters, a Senate subcommittee hearing this week was their last chance to collect on the Nazi-era life insurance policies of their parents.
The survivors asked that Congress adopt legislation that would require insurance companies doing business in the United States to publish the names of all policyholders from the pre-war era. If the companies then refused to settle claims on reasonable terms, survivors and their heirs could sue them during the next 10 years.
Even as a worldwide search was launched to locate and pay insurance policies of Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs, a major Israeli group rejected offers by the new rightist Austrian government to resolve its outstanding Holocaust-era claims.
"It is imperative that we not fall into Haider's trap and let him use the back of the Jewish people to gain recognition and legitimacy from the world," Salai Meridor, chairman of The Jewish Agency, told The Jewish Week.
A free comprehensive guide that describes the dozens of compensation and restitution programs available to Holocaust survivors is being made available by Jewish social service agencies nationwide.
In the New York area, 13 agencies will be distributing the 50-page booklet prepared by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. It explains the current and pending restitution and compensation programs, the criteria for eligibility and how to apply.
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