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May 8, 2013 9:22 pm

Defendants in $57 Million Claims Conference Fraud Trial Found Guilty

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Holocaust survivors.

More than three years after the discovery of fraudulent activity at the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (“Claims Conference”), which continued for about a decade-and-a-half and deprived Holocaust survivors of more than $57 million, former Claims Conference Director of Hardship and Article 2 Funds Semen Domnitser and two co-conspirators on Wednesday were convicted on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

During the course of a prolonged investigation that began in 2009, 31 people—including 11 employees of the Claims Conference—were criminally charged and arrested in the conspiracy. Twenty-eight defendants pled guilty. U.S. v. Domnitser et al., the case against the three who pled innocent—Domnitser, Oksanna Romalis, and Luba Kramish—had started April 8 at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in New York City. Sentencing is set for Sept. 10.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement Wednesday that the verdict against Domnitser, Romalis, and Kramish, which came after half-a-day of jury deliberations, means not just the three defendants were guilty, but that “all 31 people who played roles in the theft of $57 million dollars intended to benefit victims of the Nazi genocide—one of the darkest chapters in all human history—have been convicted.”

“We said we would not stop until we brought to justice those who committed these unthinkable crimes and today our objective was accomplished,” Bharara said.

The original indictment in this case said the defendants for more than a decade “knowingly approved nearly 5,000 fraudulent applications” in exchange for kickbacks. The Claims Conference, the designated administrator of reparations paid by the German government to Holocaust survivors, oversaw the $57 million in question.

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