It was originally intended that the means of the General Settlement Fund be distributed after a decision had been made on all applications. Once the value of all merited claims had been determined, the 210 million US Dollar was to have been distributed in the form of a pro rata allocation for each of these claims.
In view of the advanced age of many applicants, the General Settlement Fund Law was amended in 2005 (Federal Law Gazette I 142/2005), following the proclamation of legal closure. This enabled proportional advance payments to be made to the applicants whose losses had already been determined. In late 2005, the first “provisional payments” (advance payments) were able to be disbursed to the applicants.
Due to the necessity of valuing all merited claims in order to determine the final quotas for the compensation, the General Settlement Fund Law was once again amended in 2009 (Federal Law Gazette I 54/2009) to prevent the closing payments for the elderly applicants being further delayed by the few complex cases that were still being processed. As a result, closing payments could be made before all applications had been decided on.
The ultimate payment quotas were determined on 7 July 2009 by the Board of Trustees of the General Settlement Fund, whose Members include the Presidium of the National Council, government representatives and representatives from victims’ organizations and religious communities. These quotas determined what proportion of the determined losses was actually disbursed.
Overall, claims totaling approx. 1.5 billion US Dollar were recognized by the independent Claims Committee. As the claimed amounts determined for all applications were notably higher that the 210 million US Dollar provided for by the Washington Agreement, each applicant could only receive an aliquot share of his or her claim. These quotas for payments from the General Settlement Fund were calculated taking as a basis the decisions issued by the Claims Committee up to 1 July 2009 and the available means of the Fund:
Payment quotas in percent
|Procedure||Advance payment (%)||Closing payment (%)||Total (%)|
In cases where applicants had received an advance payment, this sum was deducted from the total determined payment quotas (i.e. the balance of the amount to be disbursed following an advanced payment came to 0.56 % in the claims-based procedure, 2.16 % in the equity-based procedure and 5.73 % for seized insurance policies). As the quotas calculated for the advance payments were not far off the final established quotas, the closing payment for persons already in receipt of an advance payment was relatively low.
Pursuant to Sec. 2 (1) of the General Settlement Fund Law, the government provided further funds corresponding to the determined payment quotas for all initial decisions and all decisions amended on grounds of recourse or reopening that were issued subsequent to 1 July 2009.
The payment process
The applicants received an information package explaining the steps necessary to receive the payment. The enclosed table contained a detailed list of the loss evaluations, the payment quotas, the awarded amounts and, if applicable, the amount of the advance payment and the amount of the closing payment.
If an advance payment had already been received
A certificate of identity was enclosed with the information package, which had to be filled out and returned by the applicant. In addition, the bank details provided by the applicant for the advance payment were provided, with an offer to transfer the closing payment into this account. A second empty field was provided for alternative bank details in the event that the applicant wished the sum to be transferred into a different account. The applicants were requested to confirm the bank details with their signature.
A letter from the Claims Committee was also enclosed with the information packet, containing the award of the entire pro rata amount for the applicants and any co-heirs that had been included in the proceedings.
In the event that documents (such as the certificate of identity) were not returned to the Fund, the applicants were contacted.
If no advance payment had been made
The applicants who had not received an advance payment were requested to sign the waiver enclosed with the information package (applicants who had received an advance payment had already submitted one), have their signature verified by one of the listed authorities and provide their bank details for the transferal of the closing payment. The applicants were also requested to sign to confirm their bank details.
Upon receipt of the closing payment the applicants had received the entire amount to which they were entitled. They were not entitled to receive any further payments from the General Settlement Fund.
As was the case during the advance payments, older applicants who had personally suffered Nazi persecution and seizure of assets were prioritized during the disbursal of the closing payments.