Claims Conference Chair Lashes Out at Critics
The chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Julius Berman, has hit out at media coverage and Jewish communal criticism of his handling of a 2001 letter that could have stopped a multi-million dollar fraud at the organization he has led for more than 10 years.
In an 11-page letter to members of the Claims Conference board, Berman attacked media organizations such as The Forward and The Jerusalem Post, as well as World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.
“I no longer have the luxury of sitting back and allowing such unvarnished lies to be published about me without responding,” Berman said of the Forward’s coverage.
Berman has been under siege for several weeks since a story in The Forward revealed that an anonymous letter sent to the Claims Conference in 2001 alerted the organization to fraud being committed by its own employees. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency later reported that Berman, in his role as pro bono counsel, oversaw an investigation into the letter’s allegations.
At the time, Berman served on the Claims Conference’s executive committee and its control, or audit, committee. One year later, he became Claims Conference chairman.
When the fraud was eventually uncovered, in 2009, it had netted its participants $57 million. Almost all of the people implicated in the 2001 letter were either convicted of or pled guilty to fraud.