A-8034, SEPTEMBER 20, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 365

A-8034: Sep 20, 1932

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ACCOUNTING - WAGES AND EFFECTS OF AMERICAN SEAMEN FUNDS IN THE HANDS OF SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS REPRESENTING UNDELIVERED WAGES AND EFFECTS OF AMERICAN SEAMEN WHICH CAN NOT BE RETURNED TO THE DEPOSITORS ARE FOR DEPOSITING INTO THE TREASURY WITH INTEREST ACCRUED THEREON TO THE CREDIT OF A SPECIAL FUND FOR THE PAYMENT OF CLAIMS OF THE SEAMEN OR THEIR HEIRS OR LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES. FUNDS WHICH CAN NOT BE IDENTIFIED AS BELONGING TO A SEAMAN OR OTHER PERSON AND INTEREST ACCRUING UPON FUNDS HELD BY THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONS AS CAN NOT BE ALLOCATED OR IDENTIFIED WITH ANY PARTICULAR SEAMAN'S UNCLAIMED WAGES OR EFFECTS ARE FOR DEPOSITING AND COVERING INTO THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS. WHICH HAVE BEEN OR ARE TO BE TURNED OVER TO THE DISBURSING CLERK OF YOUR DEPARTMENT AS SPECIAL DEPOSITS TO BE SEGREGATED ACCORDING TO THE SEVERAL CLASSES OF FUNDS NOW HELD IN SEPARATE ACCOUNTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH LETTER OF THIS OFFICE DATED JUNE 25.

A-8034, SEPTEMBER 20, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 365

ACCOUNTING - WAGES AND EFFECTS OF AMERICAN SEAMEN FUNDS IN THE HANDS OF SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS REPRESENTING UNDELIVERED WAGES AND EFFECTS OF AMERICAN SEAMEN WHICH CAN NOT BE RETURNED TO THE DEPOSITORS ARE FOR DEPOSITING INTO THE TREASURY WITH INTEREST ACCRUED THEREON TO THE CREDIT OF A SPECIAL FUND FOR THE PAYMENT OF CLAIMS OF THE SEAMEN OR THEIR HEIRS OR LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES. FUNDS WHICH CAN NOT BE IDENTIFIED AS BELONGING TO A SEAMAN OR OTHER PERSON AND INTEREST ACCRUING UPON FUNDS HELD BY THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONS AS CAN NOT BE ALLOCATED OR IDENTIFIED WITH ANY PARTICULAR SEAMAN'S UNCLAIMED WAGES OR EFFECTS ARE FOR DEPOSITING AND COVERING INTO THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, SEPTEMBER 20, 1932:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 17, 1932, RELATING TO THE DISPOSITION TO BE MADE OF FUNDS IN THE HANDS OF UNITED STATES SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS, OR COLLECTORS OF CUSTOMS ACTING AS SUCH, WHICH HAVE BEEN OR ARE TO BE TURNED OVER TO THE DISBURSING CLERK OF YOUR DEPARTMENT AS SPECIAL DEPOSITS TO BE SEGREGATED ACCORDING TO THE SEVERAL CLASSES OF FUNDS NOW HELD IN SEPARATE ACCOUNTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH LETTER OF THIS OFFICE DATED JUNE 25, 1932.

WITH A VIEW TO A PROPER DETERMINATION OF THE QUESTION PRESENTED THERE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE VARIOUS CLASSES OF FUNDS INVOLVED IN THIS MATTER. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT AS TO SUCH FUNDS AS REPRESENT UNCLAIMED SEAMEN'S WAGES WHERE THE MASTER, OWNER, OR AGENT OF THE VESSEL IS KNOWN, THE PROPER ACTION HAS BEEN OR WILL BE TAKEN TO RETURN THE UNCLAIMED WAGES TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS DEPOSITING THE SAME, THIS BEING BASED UPON THE THEORY THAT THERE IS NO SPECIFIC AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR UNITED STATES SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS TO RECEIVE AND HOLD UNCLAIMED SEAMEN'S WAGES.

THERE ARE FOR DISPOSITION, HOWEVER, FUNDS REPRESENTING UNCLAIMED SEAMEN'S WAGES WHICH CAN NOT BE RETURNED TO THE MASTER, OWNER, OR AGENT OF THE VESSEL BECAUSE SUCH PERSON IS NOT KNOWN, CAN NOT BE LOCATED, OR WILL NOT ACCEPT THE SAME. AS TO SUCH FUNDS, WHERE THE NAME OF THE SEAMAN IS KNOWN, THE MONEY SHOULD BE DEPOSITED INTO THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF A TRUST FUND TO BE HELD FOR THE PAYMENT OF ANY CLAIMS WHICH THE SEAMAN OR HIS ESTATE MAY PRESENT ON ACCOUNT OF SUCH UNCLAIMED WAGES, AND IN THIS CONNECTION IT MAY BE STATED THERE SHOULD BE CREDITED TO THE SEAMAN'S ACCOUNT NOT ONLY THE AMOUNT OF THE UNCLAIMED WAGES BUT ALSO ANY INTEREST THEREON WHICH MAY HAVE ACCUMULATED AND BEEN PAID BY THE BANK IN WHICH THE FUNDS WERE ON DEPOSIT, UPON THE THEORY THAT THE INTEREST FOLLOWS THE PRINCIPAL. UNITED STATES V. MOSLEY, 133 U.S. 273. WITH RESPECT TO FUNDS, IF ANY, AS TO WHICH THE SEAMAN'S NAME AND THE SOURCE OF THE MONEY ARE UNKNOWN, THEY SHOULD BE DEPOSITED AND COVERED INTO THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS, AND THE SAME ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN WITH RESPECT TO INTEREST IN GENERAL WHICH HAS ACCRUED UPON FUNDS HELD BY THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS OR ACTING SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS, BUT WHICH CAN NOT BE ALLOCATED OR IDENTIFIED WITH ANY PARTICULAR SEAMAN'S UNCLAIMED WAGES.

IN THE CONSIDERATION OF THIS MATTER, PARTICULARLY THE DISPOSITION OF UNIDENTIFIED FUNDS BY DEPOSITING AND COVERING SAME INTO THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS, THERE HAS NOT BEEN OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT THESE FUNDS ARE PRIVATE MONEYS NOT BELONGING TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THE FIRST INSTANCE. THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED ALSO THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO LAW AUTHORIZING THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS TO ASSUME CONTROL OF SEAMEN'S WAGES EXCEPT IN CASES OF DECEASED AND DESERTING SEAMEN AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 4538 TO 4543 AND SECTION 4604, REVISED STATUTES, IN WHICH IT IS PROVIDED THAT THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS SHALL WITHIN ONE WEEK AFTER RECEIVING SUCH MONEY, WAGES, ETC., TURN THE SAME OVER TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE DISTRICT IN WHICH HE RESIDES. BUT WHILE THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY IN THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS TO ACCEPT SUCH WAGES IN CASES WHERE THERE WAS NO SHOWING AS TO THE DECEASE OR DESERTION OF THE SEAMAN, IT APPEARS THAT THE PRACTICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS HAS BEEN FOR THE MASTER OF A VESSEL TO DELIVER TO THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS UNCLAIMED WAGES OF THE SEAMEN ON THE BASIS THAT THE SEAMEN USUALLY APPLIED TO THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS WITH A VIEW TO OBTAINING UNPAID WAGES. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES IT WOULD APPEAR THAT SUCH UNCLAIMED WAGES CAME INTO THE POSSESSION OF THE SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS UNDER COLOR OF AUTHORITY AND BY VIRTUE OF THEIR POSITION, AND, THEY BEING AGENTS OF THE UNITED STATES IN ACTING IN SUCH MATTERS, IT MUST BE CONSIDERED THAT IN SO ACTING THEY INVOLVED THE GOVERNMENT AT LEAST IN A MORAL SENSE TO SEE THAT THE FUNDS SO RECEIVED BY THEM WOULD BE DISPOSED OF BY DELIVERY TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS PROPERLY ENTITLED TO THE SAME. FOLLOWING THIS REASONING FURTHER, AND WITHOUT INVOKING THE DOCTRINE OF ESCHEAT, IT MUST FOLLOW OF NECESSITY THAT AS TO SUCH FUNDS AS CAN NOT BE DISPOSED OF TO THE RIGHTFUL PARTY, THEY BECOME THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT. IT IS UPON THIS BASIS THAT UNIDENTIFIED FUNDS SHOULD BE COVERED INTO THE GENERAL FUND OF THE TREASURY. SEE, IN THIS CONNECTION, FOR A CASE ANALOGOUS IN PRINCIPLE, 8 COMP. GEN. 280. SEE, ALSO, 10 COMP. GEN. 27, AND DECISION OF MAY 19, 1930, A-27961.

IT IS NOT BELIEVED, HOWEVER, THAT THE INTEREST TO BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY SHOULD BE SO COVERED UNDER RECEIPT TITLE 1850 RELATING TO INTEREST ON PUBLIC DEPOSITS, AS SUGGESTED IN YOUR LETTER, AS THE INTEREST INVOLVED IS NOT IN A STRICT SENSE INTEREST ON PUBLIC FUNDS. IT WOULD APPEAR ADVISABLE IN THIS CONNECTION TO HAVE THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY DESIGNATE A PROPER TITLE TO COVER IN GENERAL ALL UNIDENTIFIED FUNDS IN THIS MATTER TO BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY, COVERING BOTH THE INTEREST AND THE PRINCIPAL, SUCH AS "UNIDENTIFIED FUNDS DEPOSITED BY UNITED STATES SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS.'

IN CONNECTION WITH FUNDS REPRESENTING PROCEEDS OF SALE OF SEAMEN'S EFFECTS, IT IS ASSUMED THE NAMES OF THE SEAMEN ARE KNOWN, AND IN SUCH CASES THE FUNDS, INCLUDING THE INTEREST WHICH HAS ACCRUED THEREON, SHOULD BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF A TRUST-FUND ACCOUNT TO BE HELD FOR THE PAYMENT BY THIS OFFICE OF CLAIMS SUBMITTED THEREFOR BY THE PROPER PARTIES ENTITLED THERETO. IN SUBSTANCE, THE DISPOSITION IN THESE CASES SHOULD BE THE SAME AS THAT WITH RESPECT TO UNCLAIMED WAGES, WHERE THE NAME OF THE SEAMAN IS KNOWN, AND IT MAY BE ADVISABLE TO DESIGNATE ONE GENERAL TITLE SUCH AS "WAGES AND EFFECTS OF AMERICAN SEAMEN," THE DESIGNATION IN THIS RESPECT TO BE MADE BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT.

THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF YOUR DEPARTMENT SHOULD BE ADVISED ACCORDINGLY WITH RESPECT TO THE DISPOSITION OF THE FUNDS IN QUESTION. THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY HAS BEEN FURNISHED A COPY OF THIS LETTER FOR THE INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT.