December 6, 2011
Budapest Jewish cemetery being probed for corruption
Police are investigating allegations of corruption relating to fees charged for interment and other funerary arrangements at Budapest’s main Jewish cemetery.
Witnesses said police late last week conducted a search of the Jewish community’s downtown offices, including the office of the chevra kadisha, or burial society, and also at the office of the vast main Jewish cemetery on Kozma Street in an outlying district of the city.
The magazine Index in an article last week raised allegations of financial wrongdoing including embezzlement, double-entry bookkeeping and transactions without receipts in the sale of burial sites and interment services at the cemetery.
In response to the allegations, the umbrella Hungarian Jewish organization Mazsihisz issued a statement saying that the Budapest Jewish community had uncovered one case of abuse several months ago. It said the irregularity involved a false receipt issued for a sum that was not paid into the relevant account. The cemetery director was fired after repaying the money, the organization said.
“The irregularities that were committed did not involve the invoicing system of the funerary department” of the chevra kadisha, according to the Mazsihisz statement. However, it added, “further inspections establishing possible penal responsibility and calling the perpetrators to account will remain at the discretion of the investigation department and of the court of law.”