Pressure Mounts on Claims Conference Chief Over Fraud Probe

Julius Berman Faces New Criticism Over Investigation

Pressure Rises: Claims Conference board members and outside groups are raising calls for Julius Berman to allow an independent investigation into his role in the botched probe of multimillion dollar fraud at the Holocaust restitution group.
getty images
Pressure Rises: Claims Conference board members and outside groups are raising calls for Julius Berman to allow an independent investigation into his role in the botched probe of multimillion dollar fraud at the Holocaust restitution group.

By Paul Berger

Published June 07, 2013, issue of June 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

In July 2010, Goot wrote on an online Jewish news site: “I believe that the organization is well led, well governed, well staffed and manages its restitution funds in a manner consistent with best practice and probity.”

A few months later, writing in the New York Jewish Week, Kent said the fraud “was intricate enough to escape eligibility screeners and detection not only by Claims Conference personnel, but also by supervisory authorities.” He added that the Claims Conference has “swept nothing under the rug.”

In May, the Forward revealed that the anonymous 2001 letter implicated about a half dozen New York-based employees in a fraud scheme and laid out the basic steps necessary to prove it. A decade later, almost all of the people implicated in the letter pleaded guilty to or were convicted of fraud, including Semen Domnitser, a director of the two Holocaust funds that were targeted by the fraudsters.

After the letter was revealed, a Claims Conference spokeswoman, Hillary Kessler-Godin, blamed the director of the Claims Conference’s office in Frankfurt, Germany, Karl Brozik, for failing to adequately investigate the letter’s claims. Brozik died in 2004.

Biderman echoed Kessler-Godin’s statement on May 13, when he told the New York Jewish Week that only Brozik was at fault. “If we had realized what was going on, we never would have countenanced it for a second,” Biderman said.

During Brozik’s investigation, several Claims Conference officials in New York were copied on faxes between New York and Germany. They were Saul Kagan, a former executive vice president, Gideon Taylor, then executive vice president, and Greg Schneider, then assistant to the executive vice president. Kagan and Taylor have since resigned from the Claims Conference. Schneider is now executive vice president.

“There was a mistake in the way this was handled, but it was not [Schneider’s] mistake,” Biderman told the Jewish Week.

Subsequent to the Brozik investigation, Taylor and Berman oversaw a second investigation into the letter’s allegations, which was carried out by a paralegal at Berman’s law office, Kaye Scholer LLP.

Since his fellow board members began calling for an independent investigation into the handling of the letter, Berman has insisted that several independent bodies have already investigated the matter. In an 11-page memo to board members, on May 30, Berman cited investigations by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice and Deloitte LLP.

But none of those organizations focused on how the Claims Conference has handled the anonymous letter.


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!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • 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.