A-46963, FEBRUARY 8, 1933, 12 COMP. GEN. 527

A-46963: Feb 8, 1933

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION AWARDS TO PERSONS GIVING INFORMATION OF VIOLATIONS OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS ARE FOR APPLICATION ONLY WHERE THE INFORMATION LEADS TO THE RECOVERY OF DUTIES. OR FORFEITURES FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES AND ARE NOT APPLICABLE IN CASES WHERE THE INFORMATION LEADS TO THE COLLECTION OF DUTIES ON COFFEE IMPOSED BY THE LAWS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF PUERTO RICO AND WHICH ACCRUE UNDER THE LAW TO THE BENEFIT OF THE TREASURY OF THE ISLAND. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS BEFORE THIS DEPARTMENT FOR SETTLEMENT AN INFORMER'S CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION UNDER SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1930 IN CONNECTION WITH PROCEEDS RECOVERED AS A RESULT OF THE ABANDONMENT TO THE GOVERNMENT AS UNCLAIMED MERCHANDISE UNDER SECTION 491 OF THE TARIFF ACT.

A-46963, FEBRUARY 8, 1933, 12 COMP. GEN. 527

CUSTOMS SERVICE - INFORMERS - REWARDS - PUERTO RICO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF JUNE 17, 1930, 46 STAT. 758, PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION AWARDS TO PERSONS GIVING INFORMATION OF VIOLATIONS OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS ARE FOR APPLICATION ONLY WHERE THE INFORMATION LEADS TO THE RECOVERY OF DUTIES, FINES, PENALTIES, OR FORFEITURES FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES AND ARE NOT APPLICABLE IN CASES WHERE THE INFORMATION LEADS TO THE COLLECTION OF DUTIES ON COFFEE IMPOSED BY THE LAWS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF PUERTO RICO AND WHICH ACCRUE UNDER THE LAW TO THE BENEFIT OF THE TREASURY OF THE ISLAND.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, FEBRUARY 8, 1933:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 23, 1933, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS BEFORE THIS DEPARTMENT FOR SETTLEMENT AN INFORMER'S CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION UNDER SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1930 IN CONNECTION WITH PROCEEDS RECOVERED AS A RESULT OF THE ABANDONMENT TO THE GOVERNMENT AS UNCLAIMED MERCHANDISE UNDER SECTION 491 OF THE TARIFF ACT, OF CERTAIN COFFEE SHIPPED FROM THE UNITED STATES TO SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO.

THE COFFEE, PRESUMABLY OF FOREIGN ORIGIN AND LEGALLY IMPORTED INTO THE UNITED STATES, WAS MANIFESTED AND DESCRIBED IN THE BILL OF LADING AS "21 BARRELS OF FATBACK" IN ORDER TO EVADE THE PAYMENT OF DUTY IN VIOLATION OF ACT NO. 77, DATED MAY 5, 1931, OF THE LEGISLATURE OF PUERTO RICO PROMULGATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE AUTHORITY SET FORTH IN SECTION 319 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1930. AS NO ONE CLAIMED THE MERCHANDISE, IT WAS CONSIDERED AS ABANDONED TO THE GOVERNMENT, AND SOLD AT PUBLIC AUCTION. PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS OF SALE, $615.00, HAS BEEN PLACED ON SPECIAL DEPOSIT TO BE CREDITED TO THE PUERTO RICO TARIFF FUND AS WITHHELD DUTIES, AND THE BALANCE, $30.99, HAS BEEN COVERED INTO THE UNITED STATES TREASURY AS SURPLUS FUNDS.

THE DEPARTMENT CONSIDERS THAT THE INFORMER FURNISHED THE INFORMATION WHICH RESULTED IN THE RECOVERY IN QUESTION.

SECTION 319 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1930 PROVIDES THAT DUTIES ON COFFEE IMPORTED INTO PUERTO RICO, INCLUDING COFFEE IMPORTED FROM THE UNITED STATES,"SHALL BE COLLECTED * * * AS NOW PROVIDED BY LAW IN THE CASE OF DUTIES COLLECTED IN PUERTO RICO.'

THE DEPARTMENT REQUESTS YOUR DECISION ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

1. MAY COMPENSATION BE PAID TO AN INFORMER, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT, IN THE CASE OF COFFEE ILLEGALLY IMPORTED INTO PUERTO RICO FROM THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, IT BEING PRESUMED THAT THE COFFEE IS OF FOREIGN ORIGIN AND WAS LEGALLY PASSED THROUGH THE CUSTOMS IN THE UNITED STATES (FREE OF DUTY) BEFORE BEING SHIPPED TO PUERTO RICO?

2. SHALL SUCH MOIETY BE BASED ON THE GROSS AMOUNT RECOVERED, LESS EXPENSES, OR ONLY ON THE AMOUNT OF DUTIES RECOVERED?

3. SHALL SUCH MOIETY BE PAID FROM THE PUERTO RICO TARIFF FUND OR FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR COLLECTING THE REVENUE FROM CUSTOMS?

PLEASE RETURN THE DEPARTMENT'S FILE, WHICH IS INCLOSED FOR YOUR READY REFERENCE, WITH YOUR REPLY.

SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF JUNE 17, 1930, 46 STAT. 758, PROVIDES:

ANY PERSON NOT AN OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES WHO DETECTS AND SEIZES ANY VESSEL, VEHICLE, MERCHANDISE, OR BAGGAGE SUBJECT TO SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS, AND WHO REPORTS THE SAME TO AN OFFICER OF THE CUSTOMS, OR WHO FURNISHES TO A DISTRICT ATTORNEY, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, OR TO ANY CUSTOMS OFFICER ORIGINAL INFORMATION CONCERNING ANY FRAUD UPON THE CUSTOMS REVENUE, OR A VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS PERPETRATED OR CONTEMPLATED, WHICH DETECTION AND SEIZURE OF INFORMATION LEADS TO A RECOVERY OF ANY DUTIES WITHHELD, OR ANY FINE, PENALTY, OR FORFEITURE INCURRED, MAY BE AWARDED AND PAID BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY A COMPENSATION OF 25 PERCENTUM OF THE NET AMOUNT RECOVERED, BUT NOT TO EXCEED $50,000 IN ANY CASE, WHICH SHALL BE PAID OUT OF ANY APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE COLLECTION OF THE REVENUE FROM CUSTOMS. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, AN AMOUNT RECOVERED UNDER A BAIL BOND SHALL BE DEEMED A RECOVERY OF A FINE INCURRED.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION HAVE PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO DUTIES WITHHELD FROM, AND FINES, PENALTIES, AND FORFEITURES IMPOSED FOR, THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES AND ARE NOT FOR APPLICATION IN CASES WHERE THE AMOUNT OF DUTIES, FINES, PENALTIES, OR FORFEITURES WHEN COLLECTED UPON INFORMATION DO NOT ACCRUE TO THE UNITED STATES.

IN THE PRESENT CASE THERE WAS INVOLVED A SALE OF UNCLAIMED MERCHANDISE SO THAT TECHNICALLY, AS STATED BY THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS IN LETTER OF NOVEMBER 2, 1932, THE SURPLUS AMOUNT OF $30.99 MUST BE HELD AS SUBJECT TO CLAIM UNDER SECTION 493 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1930. THE DUTIES IN THE SUM OF $615 DO NOT ACCRUE TO THE UNITED STATES BUT WERE ASSESSED AGAINST THE COFFEE UNDER THE ACT OF THE LEGISLATURE OF PUERTO RICO DATED MAY 5, 1931, AND ARE FOR DISPOSITION UNDER SECTION 319 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1930, PROVIDING THAT SUCH DUTIES SHALL BE COLLECTED AND ACCOUNTED FOR AS NOW PROVIDED BY LAW IN THE CASE OF DUTIES COLLECTED IN PUERTO RICO. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION 22 COMP. DEC. 74.

IN SPECIFIC ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION SUBMITTED, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 619 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1930 HAVE NO APPLICATION TO A CASE SUCH AS INVOLVED IN YOUR SUBMISSION AND THAT, THEREFORE, NO COMPENSATION UNDER THAT SECTION MAY BE PAID TO THE INFORMER. THE FIRST QUESTION BEING ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE, THE OTHER TWO QUESTIONS WOULD APPEAR TO REQUIRE NO ANSWER, EXCEPT IT MAY BE SAID AS TO QUESTION NUMBERED 3 THAT THE PAYMENT OF MOIETY FROM DUTIES COLLECTED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF PUERTO RICO SUCH AS INVOLVED IN THE PRESENT CASE IS ONE PRIMARILY TO BE AUTHORIZED BY THE LAWS OF PUERTO RICO AND THAT UNTIL PROPER LEGISLATION HAS BEEN ENACTED IN THAT CONNECTION THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO CHARGE SUCH FUNDS WITH A PAYMENT SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED.