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Press Release
HCPO Calls for Relaxed Standards of Proof for Holocaust Claims at International Conference

June 27, 2009

New York N.Y.: Anna Rubin, director of the New York State Banking Department’s Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO), today called for the implementation of best practices across a broader range of Holocaust claims. Rubin specifically recommends applying the relaxed standards of proof used by restitution organizations dealing with claims for Holocaust-era financial assets to be applied in cases for art lost as a result of Nazi persecution. Her recommendation was presented during the Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague.  

“Though the definition of relaxed standards of proof differs from one entity to the next, they fundamentally all endorse the same principle:  a claim cannot be rejected on the grounds that the claimant lacks complete documentary evidence," said Rubin.

Rubin, part of the 19-member U.S. Delegation to the international conference, stated that even extensive research cannot always provide a complete provenance for artworks looted during the Holocaust.

“This does not suggest that proof is unnecessary: claimants are still required to demonstrate that they are entitled to inherit the asset as an heir to the original owner, that the property was owned by their predecessor in interest at the time of its loss, and that the owner was subject to Nazi persecution.  However, the application of relaxed standards of proof protects the claimant from unreasonable demands for documentation that is impossible to obtain or may simply no longer exist,” said Rubin.

"We at the Banking Department are very proud of the tireless efforts that Anna Rubin and her team have put into resolving claims, and know that as the only office of their kind in the United States, they have a unique understanding of these issues,” said Richard H. Neiman, Superintendent of Banks for New York State. “I also want to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for recognizing the great work of the HCPO and for including them as part of this important delegation.”

The conference, which continues until June 30, has representatives of 49 countries, most of which were affected by Nazi crimes during World War II. The conference is focusing on immovable (real) property, Nazi-looted art, Holocaust education and remembrance, archival access, the recovery of Judaica, and the social welfare needs of survivors of Nazi persecution. For more information on the Holocaust Era Assets Conference, visit http://www.holocausteraassets.eu/.

The HCPO is a division of the New York State Banking Department.  It was created in 1997 to help Holocaust victims and their heirs recover: assets deposited in banks; unpaid proceeds of insurance policies issued by European insurers; and artworks that were lost, looted or sold under duress.  The HCPO does not charge claimants for its services.  To date, the HCPO has helped return over $138 million in bank claims, insurance claims, and other assets, and has assisted in securing the return of 36 works of art. 

The New York State Banking Department is the regulator for all state-chartered banking institutions, virtually all of the United States offices of international banking institutions, all of the State’s mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, check cashers, money transmitters and budget planners. The aggregate assets of the depository institutions supervised by the Banking Department are more than $2.4 trillion.

In addition to regulating banking institutions, the Banking Department is active in informing and educating all New Yorkers on banking matters. To contact the Banking Department, please call 1-877-BANK-NYS or visit our Web site at www.dfs.ny.gov.

Anna Rubin, Director of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office, Addresses the Holocaust Era Assets Conference on Applying Lessons Learned from Compensation Programs.