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Claims Conference turns down Deputies

    The Claims Conference, the international body which distributes compensation to Nazi victims, has rejected a request from the Board of Deputies to reopen claims for former Jewish properties in East Germany.

    The conference, which uses assets from previously unclaimed properties to fund welfare programmes for Holocaust survivors, closed its compensation scheme for heirs in March 2004.

    But the board called for the conference to consider new claims by heirs who were in financial or medical need for a limited period.

    Paul Edlin, a vice-president of the board who attended a meeting of the Claims Conference in New York last week, was disappointed at the decision not to agree to the board's request. But the conference did address one of the board's concerns, saying it would review the compensation scheme, which has so far paid out £540 million to heirs.

    The case for reopening claims had been made in a report on the Claims Conference produced by the board by independent QC Jeffrey Gruder. He also raised questions about applications made by the Claims Conference for the return of looted art.

    Mr Edlin said that the board had not received a "formal answer" to the questions raised by Mr Gruder on art.

    The conference has agreed to appoint an ombudsman, but is yet to decide the remit of the post. It also approved one-off payments of about £1,670 to survivors previously ineligible for hardship funds.

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