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Singer denies taking money

Israel Singer denied accusations that he took money from the World Jewish Congress without authorization or documentation. WJC President Edgar Bronfman fired Singer March 14 after Singer had held a variety of top positions in the organization for nearly three decades, most recently as chairman of its policy council. Bronfman then wrote a letter to the head of the WJC’s European affiliate, which JTA obtained, arguing that he acted with great reluctance after discovering that Singer had been taking money from the organization. On Thursday, Singer released a statement through his attorney calling the accusations “baseless” and adding, “I categorically deny them.” “I am shocked and deeply saddened that Edgar, a man with whom I have worked so closely for 30 years would go to such lengths to publicly shame both himself and me,” the statement read. “For over 30 years, I have given of my heart and soul to achieve the objectives of the WJC and for the benefit of the Jewish people. I will not engage in any petty or mean-spirited or valueless arguments.” He concluded: “I will spend the rest of my life in pursuing causes for the Jewish people and human rights, and to remedy injustices against those victimized by prejudice and ignorance. My efforts will never cease.” In a statement Thursday afternoon, a WJC spokesperson replied, “These issues are now before the proper legal authorities. “Our sadness continues because underlying these issues has been Mr. Singer’s inability to accept responsibility for his actions. Mr. Bronfman is committed to his continuing efforts to restore integrity to the World Jewish Congress, and that will remain his focus.” Singer has been under a cloud since the revelation several years ago that he secretly transferred $1.2 million of WJC money to a Swiss bank account. The money subsequently was returned, but critics say the transfer was never fully explained. A 2006 report by the New York State Attorney General’s Office found no evidence of criminality on Singer’s part, but assailed the organization for lax record keeping and said Singer had violated his fiduciary duties by moving money around without authorization. Still, his firing has roiled the WJC, the umbrella organization for more than 100 local Jewish communities around the globe. Renowned in the Jewish world for his success in wresting Holocaust restitution payments from European banks and governments, Singer remains a top official of the Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organization.