Hungary in £5m row with Claims Conference

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, September 6, 2012
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Hungary and the Claims Conference traded barbs last week after the country demanded the return of more than £5 million it had handed over for Hungarian Holocaust survivors living abroad.

Budapest alleged that the US-based Conference, which administers compensation payments to Holocaust survivors around the world, had failed to “legitimately account” for the funds and discriminated against Holocaust survivors living in Hungary.

“Based on the report submitted by Claims Conference to date, it is impossible to identify the individuals eligible for compensation or the grounds for their eligibility,” said Hungary’s Ministry for Public Administration and Justice in a statement.

“The report is likewise unsuitable for verifying the authenticity of the data supplied,” it said. “It clearly transpires from the report that the distribution of the funds was made on a far-from-equal footing, which represents discrimination against Holocaust survivors living in Hungary.”

Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider said the Conference was “outraged over the erroneous and unfounded statements.” In a statement he accused the Budapest government of using “deceitful tactics”.
The Claims Conference had repeatedly provided “the detailed reporting requested for the approximately £5 million spent to assist Holocaust survivors of Hungarian descent living outside of Hungary. Every penny was transferred to a Hungarian survivor, not even one cent was spent on administration or any other expense,” he said.

Mr Schneider said “the Government of Hungary, once again, unilaterally moved the goal posts, demanding never-before-requested, additional information, all to avoid its commitment to assist Hungarian survivors.”
Hungary rejected these charges and, in a statement on Friday, accused the Claims Conference of “misleading and provoking fear in international public opinion”.

Last updated: 11:49am, September 6 2012