FBI widens Claims Conference probe


(JTA) — The FBI has widened its investigation into fraudulent Holocaust-era claims against the German government, The New York Jewish Week reported.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved when a probe was launched in December by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the weekly newspaper reported. The Claims Conference processes Holocaust-era claims for survivors on behalf of the German government.

The fraud initially involved about 100 claims submitted primarily by Russians living in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the Claims Conference’s Hardship Fund, which gives to Jews who fled the Nazis during the Holocaust and remained in Soviet-bloc countries after World War II, and therefore are ineligible for regular German reparations. The money for the fund comes from the German government and does not affect other survivors’ claims to the Claims Conference, according to the article.

The probe has been broadened to include the Article 2 Fund, a pension program that may have been defrauded of $7 million in the last 10 years, according to The Jewish Week. Individuals suspected of fraud in the fund have been notified and asked to return the money they have received.

The fraud discovery also has held up the payment of many Hardship Fund claims as the investigation continues, newspaper reported. Germany paid 7,000 Hardship Fund claims in 2008 and 18,000 last year.

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