The names of another 3,100 dormant Holocaust-era Swiss bank depositors were to be made public this week, bringing the total number of published account holders to nearly 25,000. The names are to be posted Jan. 14 on the Internet at www.crt-ii.org and www.swissbankclaims.com. Owners of the accounts or their heirs must complete the application form posted on the Web sites by July 13. The deadline for claiming the other 21,500 posted bank accounts has expired.
Edward Fagan, the first lawyer to sue Swiss banks for hoarding the money of Holocaust victims and who championed survivors’ rights in insurance and art cases, has been charged by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics with looting more than $400,000 from the trust accounts of two survivors he represented.
Disciplinary action ranges from an admonition to disbarment.“The knowing misappropriation [of funds] is a disbarable offense,” said John McGill III, the deputy ethics counsel who is overseeing the case.
Christoph Meili, the Swiss bank guard whose actions led in 1998 to a $1.25 billion settlement with Holocaust survivors and their heirs, is finally going to get his reward.
Brooklyn Federal Judge Edward Korman is expected to approve as early as next week a $1 million payment to Meili in settlement of a suit he filed against the bank after it had him fired for rescuing incriminating bank documents meant for the shredder.
Now that survivors and their heirs have begun receiving payments in Holocaust claims from Germany and Switzerland, the next fight appears to be within the Jewish community itself.
The Jewish Agency for Israel has written to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asking that he stop the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany from voting April 11 on a new slate of lay leaders. The agency’s treasurer, Chaim Chessler, said in an interview that his organization is upset that there was no Israeli representative on the nominating committee.
With no fanfare and little debate, the Claims Conference has overturned its controversial 17-year policy of setting aside 20 percent of its allocations for Holocaust education.
As a result, the group has decided to pump another $112 million into social-service programs for survivors over the next four years while freezing funds for educational, documentation and research projects at $18 million annually.
An investigation should be launched into charges of a so-called “phantom rule” favoring insurance companies being improperly used to decide Holocaust-era insurance claims, according to Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx).Engel was responding to a claim by Albert Lewis in The Jewish Week that he was pressured into applying this rule while he served as an arbitrator for the International Commission on Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC).
As one of his last acts in 1943 before he was forced into Majdanek, the Nazi extermination camp near the Polish city of Lublin, Joseph Sapir, a wealthy Jewish banker, placed all of his bonds, stock certificates and cash into a small suitcase and sent it to France for safekeeping by his son, Yehuda.
With millions of dollars in claims against Holocaust-era insurance policies still unresolved, Lawrence Eagleburger, the former U.S. secretary of state who now chairs the International Commission of Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, slammed down his gavel and stormed out of Tuesday’s commission meeting.
The outburst at the closed-door session in Washington came during a discussion of Eagleburger’s Nov. 1 decision to unilaterally terminate ICHEIC’s agreement with the Generali Trust Fund in Israel.
Tens of thousands of Jews who were forced by the Nazis to perform slave labor each will receive a check of about $3,000 this week, the last half of the $7,500 the German government and industry agreed to pay them as part of the German Foundation settlement with survivors in 2000.
The second payment was mailed and wired Monday to 130,681 survivors. The first payment took three years to process and mail.
A new computer program to improve the chances of matching Swiss bank claims against dormant Holocaust-era accounts, plus a tentative agreement by Swiss banks to release the names of 5,000 more dormant bank account holders, may result in the return of up to $800 million to their rightful owners.