Wednesday, November 10, 2010

17 charged in $42 million fraud at Claims Conference

17 charged in $42 million fraud at Claims Conference
If we want to use the word shanda meaning disgrace and an embarrassment then the indictments by the US Attorney’s office in New York of individuals who committed fraud and stole over $42 million from the Claims Conference that disperses funds (from the German government) to elderly Holocaust survivors fits that description.
The fact that the professional staff of the Claims Conference alerted the FBI to the fraud in 09 thus enabling the FBI to conduct their investigation was the correct thing to do.  The evidence appears to be that most of the crime surrounded the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn. Russian Jewish immigrants were a large part of the fraud including members of the professional staff of the Claims Conference.
Who knows the extent that some were recruited and duped into falsifying documents as they did? Surey some were bribed for kickbacks to the staff. It is a disgusting thing we witness and a stain on our community. I pray that justice will be swift and harsh for those who the district attorney is able to convict of these morally repugnant crimes.
And of course we know that anti-semites will exploit this issue. It comes down to greed. But it also comes down to the Claims Conference as well. What controls and mechanism should they have in place to protect the funds so that they go to the proper victims? When the Claims Conference staff says that the $42 million represented only a small percentage of the overall amount of money dispersed over the years, they are trying to excuse themselves and minimize the enormity of this crime. I simply cannot accept that kind of reasoning. Given the accusation that staff members of all levels in the organization participated in this fraud there has got to be an investigation of all levels of the Claims Conference
Whether this fraud extracted one percent or more makes no difference. It is a despicable crime and an embarrassment on us. Shameful! This fraud was going on since the 1990s! The justice system should take care of the criminal actions. But the Jewish community should conduct a thorough investigation to ferret out the incompetency of the leadership that enabled this kind of activity to go one unabated for almost two decades.
The professional staff and those who supervise them own this problem and are responsible for putting in place the proper mechanism to demonstrate why this could never again happen. That is the right thing to do. It is an act of Teshuva (repentance) that is needed now. It affects us all.

5 comments:

Rabbi Arthur Segal said...

Shalom Rebbe Brad:

So sad.

Unfortunately in my humble opinion, this is what happens inside Judaism, (and I won't comment on other religions), when we are more concerned over rituals, and not derek eretz.

As Jeremiah says: Jer. 6:15: ''Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.''

I will bet my knit Kippah, that those involved in the theft, dovened with tallit and tefillin, daily, and inspected the heksher on their foods.

All of our sects in Judaism need to get back to teaching the basic things that ha Shem wants from us: Justice, Loving Kindness, and being Humble.

Shalom uvracha, and happy Rosh Kodesh Kislev.

Your chaver,
Arthur

Rabbi Arthur Segal
www.JewishSpiritualRenewal.org
http://rabbiarthursegal.blogspot.com

Rabbi Brad L. Bloom said...

Thank you for your comment. It is truly sad. I wish you a rosh chodesh tov.
I hope that law enforcement and the Jewish community can demonstrate that a new organizational culture can be instituted in the Claims Conference to avoid any possibility of fraud in the future. Financial transparency is critical for the credibility of the organization and the cause of caring for our people.

william said...

I have been in personal communication with the representatives of the Claims Conference over the last several months. This fraud was known and minimized by the Board from the get-go, as it mushroomed with time. The Claims Conference is sitting on over $1 billion, claiming to be acting as "responsible stewards' of the funds entrusted to them, while the few remaining survivors starve to death in squalor and indignity.

The organized Jewish community is derelict in its responsibility to our elder survivors in simply tut-tutting at the shameful actions of the Board, and then moving on. The Board is made up of members who, in many cases, at best, are acting within a conflict of interest.

I have written and called upon the Board to immediately disband, and have a new Board impanelled immediately Would that others would join in this outcry.

I refer those interested to read some of the informative articles published in the Jerusalem Post by Isi Leibler.

Rabbi Arthur Segal said...

shalom again my dear chaver rebbe brad:

I will be out of state and country for thanksgiving and chanukah so i wish you, your family, your talmidim, chagim samaech!

Regarding transparency: our sages taught that it is needed when ever $ is collected.

They taught that even Moshe had no pockets in their gowns when he went about collecting funds. For ma'arit ayin reasons, they could afford no one, even suspecting, that one coin, was being used for personal reasons. (Midrash on Ex.38:21-29)

These basic ethical ways of living, simple derek eretz, needs so badly to be taught again to our talmidim.

Shalom uvracha,
Your chaver,
Arthur

Rabbi Arthur Segal
www,jewishspiritualrenewal.org

Rabbi Arthur Segal said...

shalom again my dear chaver rebbe brad:

I will be out of state and country for thanksgiving and chanukah so i wish you, your family, your talmidim, chagim samaech!

Regarding transparency: our sages taught that it is needed when ever $ is collected.

They taught that even Moshe had no pockets in their gowns when he went about collecting funds. For ma'arit ayin reasons, they could afford no one, even suspecting, that one coin, was being used for personal reasons. (Midrash on Ex.38:21-29)

These basic ethical ways of living, simple derek eretz, needs so badly to be taught again to our talmidim.

Shalom uvracha,
Your chaver,
Arthur

Rabbi Arthur Segal
www,jewishspiritualrenewal.org