The Jewish organization that processes restitution claims for Holocaust survivors is blaming an official who has since died for its failure to act on a 2001 warning about a multi-million scam run by some of its own staff.
A spokeswoman for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany blamed the failure on Frankfurt-based Karl Brozik, its former director in Germany. It was he, said the spokeswoman, who led the investigation into detailed allegations about the scheme that the group received in an anonymous letter almost a decade before the fraud finally came to light.
The Claims Conference failed to pursue the early tipoff, disclosed by the Forward on May 14, even though a staffer’s preliminary investigation of the letter’s charges supported its allegations.
The Claims Conference spokeswoman, Hillary Kessler-Godin, said that Brozik, who died in 2004, failed to uncover the fraud, which eventually netted $57 million in funds meant for needy survivors. Semen Domnitser, a Claims Conference employee, was convicted on federal fraud charges on May 8 as the scheme’s ringleader.
“Dr. Brozik in Germany accepted [Domnitser’s] explanations for the cases cited in the anonymous letter,” Kessler-Godin said in a prepared statement.
Domnitser was the ringleader of an approximately 15-year scheme in which thousands of people improperly claimed to be Holocaust survivors to obtain payments from German funds administered by the Claims Conference. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced September 10.
Thirty others, including almost a dozen now-former Claims Conference employees, have pleaded guilty or been convicted in connection with the fraud.