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.
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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.

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



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