Claims Conference at Crossroads as Fiery Meeting Looms for Holocaust Group

Critics Want Answers on Botched $57M Fraud Probe

getty images

By Paul Berger

Published July 07, 2013, issue of July 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 4)

“The rest of the board seems to be asleep at the switch,” Letts said. “It’s very peculiar to have a person inside the organization that works for all these people to do the report, particularly when it’s the very top leadership implicated.”

Letts added: “It’s got to be an external group for anybody to believe it.”

Letts said board members ought to alert New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the matter, particularly because executives and board members could be guilty of malfeasance.

It is unknown whether board members have contacted Schneiderman’s office, but a spokeswoman for the attorney general indicated that her boss had been alerted to the situation. “We cannot comment on matters before our office,” said Melissa Grace, the spokeswoman.

Questions have also been raised about whether the Claims Conference had insurance to cover its losses from the fraud.

Bruce Arbit, who runs a firm that helps find claimants in large class action suits, said that it is standard procedure for organizations in the claims administration industry to insure against employee error or fraud. Arbit said his own organization, A.B. Data, maintains around $100 million in so-called errors and omissions insurance and employee dishonesty insurance — a measure that all of his competitors also take.

If the Claims Conference had carried such insurance it would have been able to repay the $57 million to the ultimate victim of the fraud, the German government, which pays for the Holocaust funds that were defrauded. A Claims Conference spokeswoman, Hillary Kessler-Godin, did not respond to multiple requests for information about whether and, if so, how much insurance coverage the Claims Conference carries.

Meanwhile, Elie Rubinstein, a former social services administrator for Holocaust survivors, said he is concerned about the expansion of a Claims Conference program, the Hardship Fund, into the Former Soviet Union.

Rubinstein, the former executive director of The Blue Card, a not-for-profit that looks after destitute Holocaust survivors, fears that the Hardship Fund’s one-off payment of about $3,500, made primarily to those who fled Nazi persecution, will make an attractive target for fraudsters in a region of the world where corruption is rife and $3,500 is a significant sum. He added that there was also confusion about who is eligible.

Following negotiations last year, the German government expanded eligibility rules for the Hardship Fund. In addition to those who fled east during World War II because of the German army’s advance, the fund is now open to Jews who were trapped during the Nazi siege of Leningrad and those who were within 60 miles of the German front.


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!
  • 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.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • 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.
  • 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.