Seventeen people have been charged in the United States with stealing millions of dollars meant for victims of the Nazis during World War Two. The money came from Germany itself, paid by a group called the Claims Conference, to compensate Holocaust survivors.
But at least six people inside the organisation approved false claims, and then shared the payout – more than 42.5 million dollars between 2000 and 2009. Some of the false claimants were not even alive during the war.
“Applicants, mostly in the Russian-Jewish community, were recruited to provide copies of their identification documents, birth certificates and passports, in exchange for a promise of money from a fund relating to the war,” said US Attorney Preet Bharara.
“Along the way, a false application would be prepared in the name of the individual and their identification documents allegedly doctored to make them appear eligible for compensation.”
Millions of Jews and other people suffered in labour and concentration camps under the Nazis.
The fraud was discovered by the Claims Conference itself, which called in the FBI. The Conference’s chairman, Julius Berman, said it was an outrage that people would steal money intended for victims of what he called the worst crime in history.