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!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • 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.