California is home to 15,000 to 20,000 Holocaust survivors, the second-largest such population in the United States. An estimated 6,000 to 8,000 Californians receive reparation or restitution payments. For example, about 1,040 now receive monthly pension benefits that average $350 from the German government. About 40 percent of those who receive reparation or restitution payments live in poverty, according to officials at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a Los Angeles-based non-profit, nonsectarian law firm that serves the poor, elderly and disabled without regard to race or religion. The transfer or wire fee charged by financial institutions to process these payments can range from $10 to $40. That can be a significant burden on recipients, the vast majority of whom are elderly. Today, the average age of a Holocaust survivor exceeds 75, and the survivors are dying at a rate of approximately 10 percent a year.
In July 2003, then-Treasurer Phil Angelides asked the chief executive officers of each of the financial institutions that do business with the State and/or have been identified by Bet Tzedek as processing reparation payments to sign a commitment pledge to voluntarily waive any wire transfer or processing fees associated with Holocaust reparations or restitution.
More than 170 major financial institutions across the State, including more than 140 that do business with the State Treasurer's Office, and all financial institutions that are known to process reparations payments were contacted by the Treasurer's Office. Combined, those institutions had about $6.5 billion in state deposits as of June 30, 2003 and engaged in more than $70 billion in securities transactions with the Treasurer's Office in fiscal year 2002/2003.
As a result of the efforts by the Treasurer's Office, more than 120 financial institutions have voluntarily agreed to waive the wire transfer fees.
- List of financial institutions that have agreed to waive the fees
- List of financial institutions that were called on to waive the fees
Additional Contact Information
The following financial institutions, which are among those agreeing to waive wire transfer or processing fees associated with reparations or restitution payments, have provided contacts in order to offer further assistance with this issue. Customers at these institutions can utilize the respective contact listed below should it be necessary to resolve issues or obtain additional information in the event they are charged these wire transfer or processing fees.
Bank of America
Senior Vice President
Bank of the West
Wire Transfer Manager
California Bank and Trust
Regional Customer Service Manager
JP Morgan Chase
1 (800) 242-7399
Union Bank, N.A.
Wire Services Operations Manager
Wire Services Department
David O. Kepper
Director, Customer Relations