The US organization, Claims Conference, appointed in 2007 to disburse funds to holocaust survivors of Hungarian origin living abroad, has to date failed to render a legitimate account of the compensation funds that the Hungarian State provided for holocaust survivors, Government Commissioner András Levente Gál informed the US and Israeli Embassies today.
András Levente Gál, government commissioner for coordinating the implementation of the Good State development concept, called upon the organisation several times in recent months to provide a legitimate account; last time on 24 June, with a sixty-day deadline which has since expired. However, no report has been submitted. The Government Commissioner will therefore initiate the reimbursement by the organisation of the funds not duly accounted for, with interest and charges added, as is the normal procedure in the case of other organisations, in harmony with the laws of Hungary and the EU.
The Government Commissioner will further initiate that the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment (MAZSÖK) distribute restitution funds due to holocaust survivors in the future both abroad and in Hungary.
The Government in office at the time and MAZSÖK entered into an agreement on 20 December 2007, on the basis of which the Hungarian State would provide funds of a total amount of USD 21 million over a period of five years to holocaust survivors of Hungarian origin. With the permission of István Hiller, Minister of Education at the time, MAZSÖK also involved a US-based organisation, Claims Conference in the disbursement of compensation funds to holocaust survivors living abroad, and an agreement was concluded with the organisation.
Based on the agreement, the Hungarian State transferred the funds due for the years 2007 and 2009, USD 12.6 million (HUF 1.8 billion) in total, to MAZSÖK. Two thirds of this sum were forwarded to Claims Conference for distribution amongst survivors of Hungarian origin in foreign countries. The organisation has to date failed to render a legitimate account of the distribution of this sum, in spite of the fact that the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice and MAZSÖK have requested the organisation to provide a report on a number of occasions since May 2010, following the change of government.
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. The report is likewise unsuitable for verifying the authenticity of the data supplied. At the same time, it clearly transpires from the report that the distribution of the funds was made on a far-from-equal footing, which represents discrimination to the detriment of holocaust survivors living in Hungary.
The Government and the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment (MAZSÖK) entered into a new agreement arranged into a consolidated structure to include the interim amendments on 3 January 2012 for the replacement of the agreement of 2007. With this, the parties sought to simplify the process of settlement. The Government sent this new agreement to Claims; however, Claims failed to meet even this simplified obligation of settlement.
The Hungarian State duly paid the funds due for the year 2011 (USD 4.2 million) as set forth in the agreement of the parties and transferred the sum to MAZSÖK a few days after the conclusion of the new agreement. This sum has, however, been retained on MAZSÖK’s account ever since, with regard to the fact that they have not transferred it on to Claims as the organisation has failed to render a legitimate account of the funds made available earlier. MAZSÖK is proceeding lawfully as the provisions of the state finances law do not allow them to dispense with a settlement of the funds disbursed to date; they may only transfer the new sum on to Claims after a due account is rendered.
As Claims has to date failed to submit its report to the Hungarian State and MAZSÖK, the Hungarian Government was compelled to take the measures mentioned above.
It is the desire of the Government and MAZSÖK to ensure that, regardless of the settlement dispute, survivors should not sustain a disadvantage and should receive the funds they are entitled to within the shortest possible time.
The Government Commissioner stressed that, as part of the cooperation of the parties, accurate and timely settlement is an important necessity in the interest of the memory of the holocaust and the fight against anti-Semitism.
(Ministry of Public Administration and Justice)