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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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