Claims Conference Workers Guilty in $57 Million Holocaust Fraud Case

Two Workers and Pal Stole Money for Survivors

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, right, and Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, sign an agreement to expand benefits to Holocaust survivors.
getty images
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, right, and Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, sign an agreement to expand benefits to Holocaust survivors.

By Seth Berkman

Published May 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Three people, including two former employees of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, have been convicted for stealing $57 million intended for Holocaust victims.

Semen Domnitser—who was the director of two of the Claims Conference’s funds from 1999 to 2010—Oksana Romalis, who left the Claims Conference before the fraud was discovered, and a co-conspirator, Luba Kramrish, were found guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud after a half-a-day of deliberations by a jury inside the Federal courtroom in Manhattan.

In a statement, Claims Conference chairman Julius Berman thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and said, “Those who perpetrated this unthinkable fraud enriched themselves by abusing the historic effort to obtain a small measure of justice for Holocaust victims.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement, “We said we would not stop until we brought to justice those who committed these unthinkable crimes and today our objective was accomplished.”

In total, 31 individuals have now been convicted in the thefts. According to the FBI and government prosecutors, the $57 million scheme was facilitated by Russian-speaking Claims Conference employees and aided by a network of runners and recruiters who submitted thousands of claims on behalf of people across North America who were ineligible for the funds.

Berman said in his statement that, “The web of conspirators—both former employees and many outsiders—used their knowledge of the organization’s work in order to fabricate and approve false stories of suffering during the Holocaust for monetary gain.”

Additional reporting by Paul Berger


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.