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Embattled Claims Conference names ombudsman

April 24, 2012 22:43

Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany appoints former government administrator Shmuel Hollander.

German neo- Nazi during demonstration in Dortmund

German neo- Nazi during demonstration R 311. (photo credit:REUTERS/Ina Fassbender)

The Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, better known as the Claims Conference, appointed former government administrator Shmuel Hollander as its ombudsman, the group announced on Tuesday.

Hollander – who served as an Civil Service commissioner under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former prime ministers Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert – will be tasked with overseeing the activities of the organization, which represents Jewish victims of the Nazis and their allies in talks with European governments over compensation.

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“We are highly pleased to welcome Shmuel Hollander as Claims Conference ombudsman,” said chairman Julius Berman. “His impeccable credentials and decades of public service will enhance the work of the Claims Conference in advocating for the rights of Holocaust victims and caring for elderly victims who increasingly need our aid. Mr. Hollander will be an asset to our organization and a voice for Holocaust victims around the world.”

In recent years the group has been shaken by a series of frauds. Last year, US authorities indicted 25 people including some Claims Conference employees for stealing an estimated $57 million from the group.

Its decision to appoint an ombudsman, who will have the authority to “[determine] whether a grievance, problem or concern raised by a complainant warrants follow-up activity,” is an attempt to provide greater transparency and assuage criticism.

The group’s decision is unlikely to appease some of its harshest critics, who say an ombudsman appointed by the Claims Conference itself would lack the independence to audit its activities freely.
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