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Gallagher Calls on Florida Banks to Waive Fees for Holocaust Survivors

8/11/2005

CONTACT:
Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE – Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today called on financial institutions operating in Florida to waive the wire-transfer fees charged to Holocaust survivors and their families on payments for Holocaust-related reparations or restitution.  Financial institution fees on wire transfers vary, ranging from $10 to $40 per transaction.
 
"More than 60 years have passed since the atrocities of the Holocaust took place," Gallagher said.  "Holocaust survivors and their families have suffered enough, and the restitution they receive is a mere token of what is truly owed to them.  To charge handling fees is an unnecessary and unjust burden, particularly for those who can barely make ends meet."
 
To enlist support, Gallagher has written a letter asking the chief executive officers of financial institutions doing business in Florida to sign a commitment pledge to voluntarily waive these wire transfer or processing fees.  Gallagher said the Department of Financial Services will actively follow-up with each of the institutions, and will establish a page on its website, www.fldfs.com, that will list those financial institutions that have agreed to waive the fees. 
 
An estimated 120,000 elderly Holocaust survivors live in the U.S. today, with 35 to 40 percent of survivors living in poverty.  As many as 10,000 survivors reside in Florida.  The average amount of monthly reparations payments is $350.
 
A number of banks in New York, Illinois and California have already adopted a policy of waiving all wire transfer fees on Holocaust reparations. 
 
Gallagher's letter was sent to more than 500 financial institutions across the state.  A copy of that letter is attached.
 

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.