For Immediate Release - December 01, 2006

Holocaust Restitution Fee Waiver Program Launched

More Than 60 Banks Enrolled To Eliminate Transfer Fees For Holocaust Survivors

Director of Consumer Affairs Janice S. Tatarka today announced the launch of the Holocaust Restitution Payment Fee Waiver Program. The voluntary initiative entails Massachusetts banks agreeing to waive wire transfer fees for Holocaust survivors associated with their restitution payments from overseas.

"I applaud the Bay State banks who have already signed up to waive wire transfer fees for survivors receiving Holocaust restitution payments and I encourage other banks across the Commonwealth also to participate in this worthy initiative," said Tatarka. "The banking industry's generosity in waiving these fees will allow Holocaust survivors to receive the full benefit of their restitution payments."

At present, nearly 3,000 Holocaust survivors reside in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Many of these survivors receive Holocaust reparations or restitution payments from Germany or other European countries as result of their status as victims of Nazi persecution. The average age of these recipients is 80 years with many living on low to moderate incomes. The survivors are often charged international wire transfer fees when the funds are transferred to their bank accounts. The average fee is $15 per wire and payments are wired anywhere from once a month to once a year.

The waiver program was developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Banks, Massachusetts Bankers Association, The American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston, Inc., and The Greater Boston Child Survivor Group.

"As a survivor and restitution payment recipient, this is wonderful news," said American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston President Israel Arbeiter. "We greatly appreciate the support of the Massachusetts banking community."

Commissioner of Banks Steven L. Antonakes also lauded the voluntary effort and said, "The Division will consider a financial institution's participation in the Holocaust Restitution Payment Fee Waiver program positively under the service test of the Commonwealth's Community Reinvestment Act."

An opinion letter discussing the CRA credit is posted on the Division of Banks website at www.mass.gov/dob.

"We are encouraged by the strong response from our member banks that are ready to adopt this program," said Massachusetts Bankers Association President Daniel J. Forte. "Waiving restitution associated wire transfer fees will ultimately help reduce some of the financial burden on many of these elderly recipients."

Middlesex Savings Bank President and Massachusetts Bankers Association Chairman of the Board A. James Lavoie further stated, "Middlesex is pleased to participate in this program and provide such service to the survivors residing in the Bay State."

Massachusetts Holocaust survivors who are interested to learn more about the program are encouraged to go to their local bank or contact The American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston, Inc. and The Greater Boston Child Survivor Group representative Rosian Zerner at 617-244-1029 or Rosian@Zerner.com. A list of banks that will be participating in this program is attached. Additionally, recommended program implementation guidelines for banks are available and can be accessed on the Massachusetts Bankers Association website at https://www.massbankers.org.

The American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston was founded in 1950 to help newcomers to the United States adjust after the traumas of World War II. Since then, the organization has provided financial and lifestyle assistance to needy survivors, given them an opportunity to be with one another at social events and, in conjunction with other organizations, has helped them with restitution and compensation issues as well as giving support to individual survivors. The organization is committed to honoring the victims as well as survivors of the Holocaust by teaching it and memorializing it throughout the community.

The Greater Boston Child Survivor Group has met monthly since 1983 to help child survivors of the Holocaust understand and share the affects of their experiences, to provide mutual support and to discuss relevant issues. Members are survivors who were children during World War II, were in camps, in ghettos, in hiding, on the run, or forced to escape Europe, and the group is part of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust, a worldwide organization comprised of more than 50 groups. As the last witnesses, they share their survival stories to keep alive the memory of the six million Jews and the 1.5 million children among them murdered during the Holocaust.