Hungary to resume reparations payments through Claims Conference

(JTA) — The Hungarian government has ended a year-long freeze of money transfers to Holocaust survivors through the Claims Conference.

The decision to resume paying reparations to Hungarian Holocaust survivors living outside that country was announced Saturday by Janos Lazar, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff.

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Lazar said that $5.6 million would be transferred to the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment, or Mazsok, and be ready to be distributed by Tuesday.

Hungary pledged $21 million in 2007 to Hungarian Holocaust survivors to be distributed over five years, in part by the Conference of Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference. An extension of the agreement  was to be signed last year until Budapest’s decision to freeze money transfers, after accusing the Claims Conference of improper accounting.

Budapest also sought the return of $12.6 million that the government said it gave the Claims Conference. The Claims Conference said it only received $8 million for distribution among Hungarian Holocaust survivors living outside that country.

The money was transferred initially from the treasury to Mazsok, a committee of government officials and Jewish representatives.

Lazar said Saturday that both sides also agreed to contract an international auditing firm to monitor the money transfers.