B-158935, MAY 3, 1966

B-158935: May 3, 1966

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YOU STATE THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO NEGOTIATE THE FRENCH FRANCS BUT THAT YOU HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL IN NEGOTIATING THE GERMAN OCCUPATION MARKS. SUCH MARKS WERE WITHDRAWN FROM CIRCULATION IN 1948 AND HAVE NO PRESENT VALUE. WHILE YOU ENCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER A STATEMENT SIGNED BY THE DISTRICT COMMISSIONER OF EUPEN CERTIFYING THAT YOU HAVE BEEN TRYING EVER SINCE 1948 TO EXCHANGE THE OCCUPATION MARKS FOR NEGOTIABLE CURRENCY. THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT YOUR CLAIM WAS FIRST BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF UNITED STATES OFFICIALS IN FEBRUARY 1965. WHEN CONTACT WAS MADE ON YOUR BEHALF WITH OFFICIALS OF THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY IN BRUSSELS. WAS PRESENTED TO THE CHIEF. WHILE YOUR CLAIM IS BASED ON A TRANSACTION WHICH ALLEGEDLY TOOK PLACE IN 1944.

B-158935, MAY 3, 1966

TO MR. NICOLAUS STOFFELS:

YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 13, 1966, CONCERNING YOUR CLAIM FOR CONVERSION OF 2,791 GERMAN OCCUPATION MARKS, WHICH YOU ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN REFERRED TO OUR OFFICE FOR APPROPRIATE DISPOSITION.

YOU ALLEGE THAT IN NOVEMBER 1944 AN OFFICIAL ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY REQUISITIONED 4 HEAD OF CATTLE FROM YOU AND, IN PAYMENT THEREFOR, GAVE YOU 2,791 GERMAN OCCUPATION MARKS AND 2,000 FRENCH FRANCS. YOU STATE THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO NEGOTIATE THE FRENCH FRANCS BUT THAT YOU HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL IN NEGOTIATING THE GERMAN OCCUPATION MARKS. SUCH MARKS WERE WITHDRAWN FROM CIRCULATION IN 1948 AND HAVE NO PRESENT VALUE.

WHILE YOU ENCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER A STATEMENT SIGNED BY THE DISTRICT COMMISSIONER OF EUPEN CERTIFYING THAT YOU HAVE BEEN TRYING EVER SINCE 1948 TO EXCHANGE THE OCCUPATION MARKS FOR NEGOTIABLE CURRENCY, THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT YOUR CLAIM WAS FIRST BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF UNITED STATES OFFICIALS IN FEBRUARY 1965, WHEN CONTACT WAS MADE ON YOUR BEHALF WITH OFFICIALS OF THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY IN BRUSSELS. THEREAFTER, IN ACCORDANCE WITH ADVICE GIVEN BY SUCH EMBASSY OFFICIALS, YOUR CLAIM, BY LETTER OF MARCH 10, 1965, SIGNED BY J. BASTIN, WAS PRESENTED TO THE CHIEF, UNITED STATES ARMY CLAIMS OFFICE, PARIS.

THUS, WHILE YOUR CLAIM IS BASED ON A TRANSACTION WHICH ALLEGEDLY TOOK PLACE IN 1944, NO CLAIM WAS LODGED WITH ANY REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT UNTIL MORE THAN 20 YEARS LATER. NORMALLY, GOVERNMENT RECORDS COVERING SUCH TYPES OF TRANSACTIONS ARE DESTROYED PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH PERIOD AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HAVING KNOWLEDGE OF TRANSACTIONS WHICH TOOK PLACE AT THAT TIME ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO DENY OR TO CONFIRM THE PROPRIETY OF CLAIMS ARISING DURING SUCH PERIOD.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AND OTHER GOVERNMENTS HAVE ENACTED LAWS PRECLUDING THE CONSIDERATION OF ANY CLAIM NOT PRESENTED WITHIN A SPECIFIED TIME AFTER OCCURRENCE OF THE EVENT WHICH GAVE RISE TO THE CLAIM. UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES SUCH PERIODS VARY DEPENDING UPON THE TYPE OF CLAIM INVOLVED. FOR EXAMPLE, PUBLIC LAW 393, APPROVED JANUARY 2, 1942, 55 STAT. 880, PROVIDES THAT CERTAIN CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES INVOLVING ACTIVITIES OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY AND ARISING IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED UNLESS PRESENTED WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF THE ACCRUAL OF SUCH CLAIM. HOWEVER, IN OUR PRIOR CONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER, YOUR CLAIM WAS CONSIDERED AS BEING CONTRACTUAL IN NATURE AND THERE WAS APPLIED THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC NO. 820, APPROVED OCTOBER 9, 1940, 54 STAT. 1061. THIS LAW IS LESS RESTRICTIVE THAN THE LAW FIRST MENTIONED IN THAT IT PERMITS CONSIDERATION OF SUCH CLAIMS IF PRESENTED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WITHIN 10 YEARS FROM THE DATE OF ITS ACCRUAL.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE YOUR CLAIM WAS NOT PRESENTED WITHIN THE TIME SPECIFIED IN EVEN THE LAW MOST FAVORABLE TO YOU, WE HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE EXCEPT TO AGAIN DISALLOW YOUR CLAIM.

FURTHERMORE, AND ASSUMING THAT YOUR CLAIM IS OTHERWISE VALID, IT APPEARS THAT IT IS OF THE TYPE FOR WHICH RESPONSIBILITY OF SETTLEMENT WAS ASSUMED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF BELGIUM IN THE AGREEMENT OF SEPTEMBER 24, 1946, BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE GOVERNMENT OF BELGIUM WHICH, IN SECTION 2.B. PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"B. (1) THE BELGIAN GOVERNMENT WILL PROCESS CERTAIN CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, AND ITS WAR CONTRACTORS AND SUBCONTRACTORS, AND DISCHARGE THEIR LIABILITY WITH RESPECT THERETO, NAMELY:

"/C) CLAIMS OF INDIVIDUALS, FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS DOMICILED OR RESIDENT IN BELGIUM, THE BELGIAN CONGO OR LUXEMBOURG AGAINST THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT ARISING OUT OF ACTS OR OMISSIONS IN BELGIUM, THE BELGIAN CONGO OR LUXEMBOURG OF MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES OR CIVILIAN PERSONNEL ATTACHED TO SUCH FORCES, BOTH LINE-OF DUTY AND NON-LINE-OF-DUTY, OCCURRING ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 3, 1939 AND PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 2, 1945 IN THE CASE OF CONTRACTS, AND OCCURRING ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 3, 1939 AND PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1946 IN THE CASE OF OTHER ACTS AND OMISSIONS.'