A document obtained by JTA shows that top officials of the Claims Conference were sufficiently concerned by allegations of fraudulent restitution claims that they launched their own probe in 2001, nearly eight years before the $57 million scheme was finally detected.
The Claims Conference has said in recent days that failure to heed early warnings of the fraud lies with a now-dead regional director. But the new document shows that two senior officials — the organization’s chief professional at the time, Gideon Taylor, and its counsel, Julius Berman — conducted their own investigation, which failed to uncover the extent of the scheme.
The probe resulted in an eight-page report that raised questions about the handling of several fraudulent cases by Semen Domnitser, a Claims Conference employee who was found guilty on May 8 of orchestrating the $57 million scheme.
The revelation of the report leaves unanswered the question of whether Claims Conference leaders showed gross negligence in failing to detect that Domnitser was orchestrating a widespread fraud, as some critics contend, or whether Domnitser, who was questioned in the two 2001 probes, was such a shrewd operator that Claims Conference officials couldn’t help but be fooled.