Date: December 22, 2021
To: NY Chartered Banks and Licensed Institutions
Re: Fee Waiver for Holocaust Reparation Payments
I write as the Acting Superintendent of Financial Services regarding the restitution payments received by many of New York’s Holocaust victims and their heirs.
These New York State residents frequently are assessed international wire transfer fees, up to $40 dollars per transaction, on compensation payments. In 2022, more than 15,000 Holocaust survivors in New York could incur these fees. The transfer fees impose a significant burden on recipients, many of whom are elderly and rely upon these payments to assist with household expenses. Approximately one-third of these individuals live in poverty.
As you may recall, over two decades ago, New York State created the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) within the Department of Financial Services to assist Holocaust victims and their heirs navigate the complicated bureaucracy of international restitution programs. The HCPO remains the only government agency providing assistance free of charge to this vulnerable population, serving individuals from nearly all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 39 countries. Your institution is in a unique position to work with the HCPO to correct this unfortunate situation. I urge you to voluntarily waive wire transfer and processing fees associated with Holocaust reparations and restitution payments, if your institution does not do so at this time.
Although a small number of institutions have agreed to waive these fees in the past, this group represents less than 5% of the financial institutions in New York State. There is currently no reliable list of institutions that have committed to waiving these fees nor do recipients know how to exercise their right to benefit from the waiver. The New York State Department of Financial Services plans to compile a list of all financial institutions that agree to waive such fees and make the list available to the public by posting on its website.
These fee waivers will serve to reflect the willingness of New York regulated financial institutions to contribute to the well-being of our citizens. While it is impossible to fully address the suffering of these survivors, a simple act by your institution can help reduce the inconvenience to the recipients and enhance their quality of life.
To voluntarily waive any wire transfer or processing fees associated with Holocaust reparation payments or to reaffirm your commitment to this endeavor, please complete the secure online HCPO Financial Institution Fee Waiver Form. By completing the form, you consent to be added to the Department’s list of financial institutions that have agreed to waive these fees on the Department’s website. Kindly complete the online form within 45 days from receipt of this communication.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ms. Connie Walsh, Deputy Director, of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office at co[email protected] or (212) 709-5583.
Adrienne A. Harris
Acting Superintendent of Financial Services