Saturday, January 01, 2005

World Jewish Congress financial controversy continues

1 Comments:

At 5:23 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

1)
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=597158

Holocaust fund investigated for 'unusual' money transfers
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Independent, UK
January 1, 2005

The World Jewish Congress, which has wrung billions of dollars in Holocaust restitution from European governments and companies, is being investigated by the authorities in New York following a series of unusual money transfers of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The influential international group, which was founded in the Thirties to counter growing anti-Semitism, has attracted the attention of Elliot Spitzer, the New York state attorney general, who is making informal inquiries into the transfers ordered by Rabbi Israel Singer, the president of the WJC since 1985. It is possible his office could order a full-scale inquiry.

The inquiries follow a series of allegations about the organisation's accounting practices by its most outspoken internal critic, Isi Liebler, the WJC's senior vice-president. Mr Liebler, who has declined to comment in public, has demanded a full independent audit of the group's finances.

The WJC was established in 1936 to try to counter growing anti-Semitism and mobilise the world against the Nazi onslaught. In recent years the group, which has its international headquarters in New York, has been responsible for obtaining compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust and has secured millions of dollars in payments from Swiss banks.

The investigation by Mr Spitzer's office is reportedly focussing on payments ordered by Rabbi Singer between October 2002 to February last year. In that five-month period he ordered the transfer of $1.2m (£630,000) of the WJC's funds to a numbered bank account in a bank in Geneva. The staff in its Geneva office said they were not aware of such an account.

In an effort to overhaul the group's accounting practices, as well as improve its public image, its chief patron, the billionaire Egar Bronfman, has ordered an internal review. That is being carried out by Stephen Herberts. Mr Herberts has reportedly met with Mr Liebler in Israel to discuss his demands for a full audit.

Mr Herberts told The New York Times: "You can't turn around an organisation overnight but I would say that 70 or 80 per cent of the changes have been initiated." He said that Mr Spitzer's office had not contacted him but that he was willing to co-operate. "I'm more than happy to give them anything and everything they may want to see," he added.

It was reported by the Jewish Week, a publication for New York's Jewish community, that Rabbi Singer and Mr Bronfman have worked together for more than two decades. Earlier this year they accused Mr Liebler of trying to destroy the WJC and discredit Mr Bronfman by raising questions about its finances.

Mr Bronfman tried to oust Mr Liebler from his position, calling his questions "assaults on my tenure, my integrity and my person".

Rabbi Singer has not commented on the investigation of the money transfers. Earlier this year he said he would fight any such move. "There is no scandal, and I'm not going to be threatened," he said.

Mr Liebler's critics claim that he has been motivated by political differences with Mr Bronfman, charges he has denied. The WJC has been a vocal actor in obtaining payments for survivors of the Holocaust and has worked closely with the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.

The organisation, which was set up in 1998, has collected more than $500m for victims.

2)
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1104568242650

Jan. 1, 2005
Report: World Jewish Congress probed
By JPOST.COM STAFF

New York State Attorney-General Eliot Spitzer has reportedly been holding an initial and informal investigation into suspicious money transfers made by the World Jewish Congress, which has its international headquarters in New York.

Among the dealings inquired is a transfer of $1.2 million by the WJC Chairman of Governing Board Rabbi Israel Singer, according to The New York Times.

From October 2002 to February 2003, Singer allegedly ordered the transfer of $1.2 million from the WJC New York account to an account at a UBS branch in Geneva. After the new manager of the congress's Geneva office told Singer that an accountant in their office had been adding to his monthly wage some $1,900, the money was quickly transferred to an account in London controlled by Israeli lawyer Zvi Barak.

Employees at WJC's Geneva office had reportedly said they said no information regarding the London bank account, and that it was made known only several months later when a bank statement of a UBS account arrived at the office. The statement showed that there has been an overdraw of $40 when Singer transferred the money to Zvi Barak.

According to the newspaper, congress officials replied to the allegations saying the $1.2 million had never left the organization's control and was transferred to a dormant account in order to avoid giving discretion over so much money to the Geneva's office new manager.

The attorney-general's initial investigations is expected to expand to a full-scale probe of the World Jewish Congress.

Isi Leibler, WJC's senior vice president and a harsh internal critic, has said in recent months that Singer and WJC President Edgar Bronfman have been running the organization like their own private enterprise, spending money from WJC's annual $11m. budget at whim.

Singer and professional officials said Leibler, an Australian who made aliya in 1999 (and is a columnist for The Jerusalem Post), is merely orchestrating a campaign of disinformation in an attempt to seize power at the WJC. They also say no disbursements at the congress have been made without following proper procedures.

After Leibler's charges surfaced, Bronfman appointed Stephen Herbits, Bronfman's longtime associate from the Seagram company, to take a full financial accounting of the congress.

WJC will be holding a new general assembly on January 10-11, 2005, in Brussels. Officials have said they are hopeful the new "plenary session" will put to rest charges regarding improper money dealings.

However, critics have said the hastily-called session may be nothing more than an attempt to quash the controversy and put a stop to internal criticism.

Leibler has called for a full independent audit of the congress, which is one of the most prominent Jewish organizations in the world.

"This public spat causes damage to the Jewish people, not only the World Jewish Congress," Yoram Dinstein, chairman of WJC's task force on constitution and governance, told The Jerusalem Post several weeks ago.

3)
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/521725.html

Report: WJC to be probed for financial irregularities
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
Sat., January 01, 2005 Tevet 20, 5765

The World Jewish Congress is being investigated by New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer following a series of unusual money transfers of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the British newspaper The Independent reported on Saturday.

Spitzer is making informal inquiries into the transfers ordered by Rabbi Israel Singer, the president of the WJC since 1985. It is possible his office could order a full-scale inquiry, according to the report.

The inquiries follow a series of allegations about the organization's accounting practices by its most outspoken internal critic, Isi Liebler, the WJC's senior vice-president. Liebler, who has declined to comment in public, has demanded a full independent audit of the group's finances, according to The Independent.

The WJC was established in 1936 to try to counter growing anti-Semitism and mobilize the world against the Nazi onslaught. In recent years the group, which has its international headquarters in New York, has been responsible for obtaining compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust and has secured millions of dollars in payments from Swiss banks.

The investigation by Mr Spitzer's office is reportedly focussing on payments ordered by Rabbi Singer between October 2002 to February last year. In that five-month period he ordered the transfer of $1.2 million of the WJC's funds to a numbered bank account in a bank in Geneva. The staff in its Geneva office said they were not aware of such an account, the newspaper reported.

In an effort to overhaul the group's accounting practices, as well as improve its public image, its chief patron, the billionaire Egar Bronfman, has ordered an internal review. That is being carried out by Stephen Herberts. Herberts has reportedly met with Liebler in Israel to discuss his demands for a full audit.

Herberts told The New York Times: "You can't turn around an organization overnight but I would say that 70 or 80 per cent of the changes have been initiated." He said that Spitzer's office had not contacted him but that he was willing to co-operate. "I'm more than happy to give them anything and everything they may want to see," he added.

It was reported by the Jewish Week, a publication for New York's Jewish community, that Rabbi Singer and Bronfman have worked together for more than two decades. Earlier this year they accused Liebler of trying to destroy the WJC and discredit Bronfman by raising questions about its finances.

Bronfman tried to oust Liebler from his position, calling his questions "assaults on my tenure, my integrity and my person".

Singer has not commented on the investigation of the money transfers. Earlier this year he said he would fight any such move. "There is no scandal, and I'm not going to be threatened," he said.

Liebler's critics claim that he has been motivated by political differences with Mr Bronfman, charges he has denied. The WJC has been a vocal actor in obtaining payments for survivors of the Holocaust and has worked closely with the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.

The organization, which was set up in 1998, has collected more than $500 million for victims.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home