Forgery suspected in restitution report

Police suspect Holocaust cmte. report was falsified to benefit Bank Leumi.

avital mk 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
avital mk 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Chairman of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee for the Location and Restitution of Property of Holocaust Victims, MK Colette Avital (Labor), was questioned by police last week as part of an ongoing investigation to determine whether the committee's reports had been altered. It is suspected that the report was falsified in a way beneficial to Bank Leumi, Army Radio reported. An Avital spokesman noted that certain pages were removed and she (Avital) demanded the pages be returned, adding that the report was published in its entirety "MK Avital requests to emphasize in the report that was submitted that there were no discrepancies and no forgeries. At a certain phase it was revealed that certain data were removed. Thus she made sure to return the data to the report," said the spokesman. The parliamentary report revealed that Israeli banks hid money held in Holocaust victims' accounts and ordered the banks to return the illegally-held money. Avital's committee found that some NIS 1 billion would have to be paid by five banks and the Custodian-General's Office if all the heirs were found. Bank Leumi was found to hold the largest number of accounts from the war period. The suspicions of forgery emerged when members of the committee noted that one of the final pages of the report was different from the report that they had composed. Among the changes, details were removed about the accounts of the victims and it was written that a certain number of the accounts were not actually held by Holocaust victims, but rather by English Jews, thus removing the necessity to return the money. Additionally details related to the banks holding the accounts - especially Bank Leumi - were removed. When the forgeries were revealed, the original report was published and an investigation was opened into the incident. As part of the investigation, Avital was investigated, as was the committee's manager, a Knesset employee. The investigation team looked into suspicions that the banks tried to pressure the Knesset employees, who, although they were paid by the Knesset, worked to benefit the banks.