Claims Conference accused of withholding probe results from board

Results of probe conducted by ombudsman received three days ago, 'Jerusalem Post' learns.

July 4, 2013 22:02
2 minute read.
Berman Julius

Berman Julius 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The Conference of Material Claims Against Germany has not yet distributed the results of an internal probe conducted by Ombudsman Shmuel Hollander to members of its board despite having received a copy three days ago, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

“The Report was delivered to the Claims Conference as soon as it was completed, on 2 July,” Robert Goot, a member of the board, informed the Post in an email on Thursday.

In May, Goot was appointed by embattled conference chairman Julius Berman as part of the Select Leadership Committee that tasked Hollander with investigating the organization’s response to a $57 million fraud perpetrated against it for 16 years.

The controversy at the Claims Conference centers around a 2001 anonymous tip-off letter sent to the conference which resulted in two internal probes that failed to uncover the fraud. The current probe is the result of pressure from several influential members of the board representing organizations such as the World Jewish Congress.

While Goot wrote that he “fully expect[s] that, as originally intended, it will be distributed to directors in advance of the Board meeting,” which is to be held next week, several members of the board have indicated that they are upset that they have not yet received copies.

Responding to Goot’s statement to the Post, Stephen Kramer, who represents the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland on the board, indicated that said statement was released only “a few hours” after Goot “informed me that the report was not ready yet.”

He asked if this meant that the Claims Conference was “sitting on the material everybody is urgently waiting for?” Kramer indicated that he was “worried” about having sufficient time to study the document prior to the board meeting.

“Tomorrow is Friday and afterwards Shabbat and people will start traveling to New York. When are we supposed to get the reports and have decent time to study them?” he asked.

Paul Edlin, who represents the Board of Deputies of British Jews on the board, also confirmed that he has not received a copy of the document.

Speaking by phone with the Post on Thursday evening, Edlin indicated that he had not received “any papers from the ombudsman.”

“In my opinion the ombudsman was set up to investigate complaints by people who put in applications to the Claims Conference,” he said. “It wasn’t set up to investigate allegations against the leadership.”

A Claims Conference representative did not respond to a request for comment.

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