Saturday, May 11, 2013

3 Found Guilty In Defrauding Holocaust Fund of $57 Million; Could Face A Maximum Sentence Of 20 Years

The Holocaust

An article, from JTA and published in Haaretz says that three individuals, one man and two women, were found guilty of defrauding a fund set up for Holocaust survivors. The three convicted are Semen Domnitser, Oksana Romalis and Luba Kramrish. Their names should be remembered with ignominy and shame.

The article says:
Semen Domnitser, the former Claims Conference employee who was charged with leading a $57 million fraud scheme at the Holocaust restitution organization was found guilty on all counts by a U.S. District Court jury in Manhattan.
The Wednesday verdict ended a four week trial in which two others, Oksana Romalis and Luba Kramrish, were also found guilty. Twenty-eight people charged in the fraud scheme had pleaded guilty earlier.“To have it all come to closure is extraordinarily important,” Greg Schneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference, told JTA. “We’re obviously very happy that justice has been served, but focus on the needs of Holocaust survivors has always been our main priority.”
The fraud was discovered in 2009 and dated back to 1993. It involved falsifying applications to the Hardship Fund, an account established by the German government to provide one-time payments of approximately $3,360 to those who fled the Nazis as they moved east through Germany, and the Article 2 Fund, through which the German government gives pension payments of approximately $411 per month to needy Nazi victims who spent significant time in a concentration camp, in a Jewish ghetto in hiding or living under a false identity to avoid the Nazis.
That these two women and one man, all from the former Soviet Union, committed such an unconscionable act speaks on how low and how evil some humans are. That the three deserve the maximum sentence possible is clear. But that is not the end of the matter. What is unclear is how much of the money can be recovered.

After all, the German government has given the money for restitution to legal claimants. In this case, many of the claimants were born after the end of the Second World War. What also needs to be scrutinized is how this fraud was perpetuated? Instead of absolving itself of all responsibility  the Claims Conference in New York needs to have an internal inquiry, at the very least, to address such questions, chiefly to ensure that this never happens again.

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You can read the rest of the article at [Haaretz]