The Massachusetts Bankers Association (MBA) is proud to report that thus far, more than 60 banks have enrolled in a program to eliminate transfer fees for Holocaust survivors who live in the Bay State.
The Holocaust Restitution Payment Fee Waiver Program began in December. Participating banks are agreeing to waive wire transfer fees for Holocaust survivors associated with their restitution payments from overseas. The initiative was developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Banks, the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston, the Greater Boston Child Survivor Group and the Massachusetts Department of Consumer Affairs.
“We are encouraged by the strong response from our member banks that are ready to adopt this program,” said MBA 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.”
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 a 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 had been charged international wire transfer fees up to $15 per transfer, with payments wired anywhere from once a month to once a year.
“I applaud the Bay State banks who have already signed up to waive wire transfer fees for survivors,” said Director of Consumer Affairs Janice S. Tatarka. “The banking industry’s generosity in waiving these fees will allow Holocaust survivors to receive the full benefit of their restitution payments.”
“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, can be found on the Division of Banks Web site at www.mass.gov/dob.
If your bank has yet to sign up for the program, contact Kevin Kiley at the MBA at (617) 523-7595. n