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For Release: February 24, 1999
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566


Committee Monitors Restitution Efforts for Holocaust Survivors

SACRAMENTO -- It was announced today that California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush recently accepted an invitation to be a member of the Executive Monitoring Committee.

The Committee, which was formed by New York City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi in December 1997, coordinates a national network of state and local finance officials and monitors developments in the effort to gain restitution for Holocaust survivors and heirs. The committee’s first major success came in August 1998, when Swiss banks agreed to a $1.6 billion settlement after the Committee threatened to impose sanctions. The Committee is now monitoring developments in other countries, such as Germany, France, and the United States.

Commissioner Quackenbush, who was nominated by New York State Insurance Superintendent Neal Levin, joins a committee that includes:

New York City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, Chairman
Denise Ducharme of Maine, immediatee past president of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
Barbara Hafer, Pennsylvania State Treasurer
H. Carl McCall, New York State Comptroller
Bill Nelson, State of Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner
Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller

"We are delighted that Commissioner Quackenbush bring his expertise and commitment to the work of the committee," said Mr. Hevisi. "His insight and experience will help ensure that personal assets plundered by the Nazis will be returned to the rightful owners or their heirs."

Commissioner Quackenbush adds the HEMC membership to his agenda to fight on several fronts to ensure that justice is provided to Holocaust victims and their heirs. He has coordinated California’s work to collect data and set up a registry so that restitution on Holocaust-era insurance claims can be made promptly, accurately and fully. Commissioner Quackenbush pledged in his 1999 Inaugural Address to pursue additional funding from the California Legislature to fully implement the bill (SB 1530) that authorized funding to achieve these goals.

He is also a member of the International Holocaust Commission, chaired by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. He is the Chair of the Commission’s Audit Committee, which has full authority to review insurance company records and ultimately establish the level of restitution that companies must provide to victims. He recently agreed to share this position with Rudolph Gerlach, the head of the German Federal Insurance Supervisory Office (BAV).

Through the International Commission, a $5 million operating budget and a preliminary $90 million floor on potential payments has been established -- with an understanding that the final restitution level is very likely to be significantly larger. The Commission’s work has been sanctioned by 44 countries.

In addition, Commissioner Quackenbush has lent his support in the courts to protect the Constitutional rights of plaintiffs seeking restitution of Holocaust-era policies. Specifically, he filed an amicus brief in the Stern litigation to ensure that the jurisdiction of the California Insurance Commissioner was maintained, thereby preventing companies from having their cases transferred from California – where the Stern case was filed -- to another, perhaps more favorable or more controllable jurisdiction.

"National and international consensus is rare," continued Quackenbush. "Even more rare are the times when something so right is so clear. In life, we have few chances to participate in work that is so singularly important. That is why I will continue to participate in the work of this commission as another key component of the multi-faceted effort to move with maximum speed to complete our work – work that, when brought to fruition, will again affirm our shared humanity and the enduring power to do what is right to balance the scales of eternal justice."