Survivors of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz arrive to the former camp in Oswiecim..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jewish people’s primary Holocaust restitution body is reported to be under investigation by the New York State attorney-general over suspected mismanagement.
Only days after details of a bitter dispute between the leadership and former ombudsman of the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany became public, both Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler and Jewish Week publisher Gary Rosenblatt wrote articles alleging that the state’s top law enforcement official had launched a probe.
The New York-based organization is the primary Jewish communal interlocutor with Germany for Holocaust reparation issues, with an annual budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Last week, ombudsman Shmuel Hollander accused president Julius Berman of firing him as retribution for a 2013 report in which he had asserted that mismanagement had facilitated the embezzlement of tens of millions in dollars from the conference. The total taken may have been significantly higher than the $57m. currently believed to have been stolen, he said.
Berman vigorously denied the allegations and, in a letter to one of his directors, accused Hollander of using “despicable” tactics.
Asked about the reports, a spokesman for the attorney- general told the Post that “we cannot comment on potential or ongoing investigations.”
The conference itself has thus far declined to comment.
While sources indicate that several directors had planned on calling for an independent investigation of the conference during this week’s board meeting, no announcements have been made and the organization has not responded to requests for comment.
The conference did, however, respond to a claim by Leibler that “a new fraud relating to misappropriated funds in the Ukraine, also resulting from lack of adequate oversight, is being investigated.”
“There is no investigation and no issue,” a spokeswoman told the Post. “As part of the Claims Conference’s ongoing review of its programs, activities and processes, there was an audit of certificates from archives in Ukraine that help establish eligibility for programs. Nothing out of the ordinary was found.
This is one of dozens of audits that the Claims Conference performs each year of its activities and programs, as is customary and expected.”