WASHINGTON – Hostages held by Iran from 1979 to 1981, victims of the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and victims of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole received good news Thursday. The Justice Department says it will finally make more than $800 million in compensation payments to these and other victims of international terrorism.

The compensation fund will continue making payments in the coming weeks that will bring the total to over $1 billion.

The fund was established by legislation in 2015 and is administered by the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section in the Criminal Division. Congress authorized the department to deposit certain forfeiture proceeds, penalties and fines into the fund if they come from civil and criminal matters involving prohibited transactions with state sponsors of terrorism.

Originally, Congress provided $1.025 billion for payments to victims, and recent Justice Department prosecutions and U.S. government enforcement actions have increased the total available for initial payments to more than $1.1 billion.

On May 17, 2016, the Attorney General’s office  appointed Kenneth R. Feinberg, Esq., as the special master to administer the Fund with the assistance of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, Criminal Division. The special master rendered 2,332 eligibility decisions by December 2016, and in February 2017, the department informed all eligible claimants of their initial payment amounts.

The fund continues to accept applications and to collect deposits for future payments as authorized by the act for the ten-year life of the fund

. More information about the Fund’s compensation to victims of state sponsored terrorism is available on the Fund’s website at www.usvsst.com(link is external), such as application materials, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and publications including the Federal Register notice and a report to Congress. Further questions may be directed to the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.