B-163073, DEC. 28, 1967

B-163073: Dec 28, 1967

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FOR REFUND OF ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT TO BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT FOR OIL AND GAS LEASE WHICH WAS REJECTED. CLAIM FOR REFUND OF ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT FOR OIL AND GAS LEASE WHICH WAS NOT MADE UNTIL MORE THAN 11 YEARS AFTER NOTICE OF REJECTION OF APPLICATION MUST BE DISALLOWED SINCE AFTER SUCH LENGTH OF TIME THERE ARISES PRESUMPTION THAT CLAIM WAS PAID IN DUE COURSE AND EVEN THOUGH CLAIMANTS HAVE SUPPLIED AFFIDAVITS THAT THEY DID NOT RECEIVE REFUND. RECORDS AND ARE THEREFORE NOT SUFFICIENT TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION. PAUL: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 27. FOR A REFUND OF AN ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT MADE TO THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT WAS DISALLOWED. FOLLOWING SUCH ADVICE NO FURTHER CORRESPONDENCE WAS RECEIVED FROM OR ON BEHALF OF THE COMPANY UNTIL YOUR LETTER OF JULY 23.

B-163073, DEC. 28, 1967

LEASES - OIL AND GAS - REFUND OF ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT DECISION RE CLAIM OF PUGET SOUND CO., INC. FOR REFUND OF ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT TO BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT FOR OIL AND GAS LEASE WHICH WAS REJECTED. CLAIM FOR REFUND OF ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT FOR OIL AND GAS LEASE WHICH WAS NOT MADE UNTIL MORE THAN 11 YEARS AFTER NOTICE OF REJECTION OF APPLICATION MUST BE DISALLOWED SINCE AFTER SUCH LENGTH OF TIME THERE ARISES PRESUMPTION THAT CLAIM WAS PAID IN DUE COURSE AND EVEN THOUGH CLAIMANTS HAVE SUPPLIED AFFIDAVITS THAT THEY DID NOT RECEIVE REFUND, SUCH STATEMENTS CANNOT BE VERIFIED OR CORROBORATED BY GOVT. RECORDS AND ARE THEREFORE NOT SUFFICIENT TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION.

TO MR. CHARLES H. PAUL:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 27, 1967, CONCERNING OUR SETTLEMENT OF OCTOBER 4, 1967, WHEREIN THE CLAIM BY THE PUGET SOUND COMPANY, INCORPORATED, FOR A REFUND OF AN ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT MADE TO THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT WAS DISALLOWED.

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT THE PUGET SOUND COMPANY IN FEBRUARY 1949, DEPOSITED $310.03 WITH THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT AS ADVANCE RENTAL IN CONNECTION WITH THE COMPANY'S APPLICATION FOR AN OIL AND GAS LEASE IN JEFFERSON COUNTY, WASHINGTON. BY DECISION OF DECEMBER 8, 1953, THE BUREAU ADVISED THE COMPANY THAT ITS APPLICATION FOR LEASE HAD BEEN REJECTED AND THAT THE ADVANCE RENTAL WHICH ACCOMPANIED THE APPLICATION WOULD BE RETURNED BY TREASURY CHECK. FOLLOWING SUCH ADVICE NO FURTHER CORRESPONDENCE WAS RECEIVED FROM OR ON BEHALF OF THE COMPANY UNTIL YOUR LETTER OF JULY 23, 1965. IN THAT LETTER, WRITTEN MORE THAN 11 YEARS LATER, YOU STATED THAT THE COMPANY HAD NOT RECEIVED THE RETURN OF THE ADVANCE RENTAL REFERRED TO IN THE DECISION OF DECEMBER 8, 1953, AND YOU ASKED THAT IT BE REFUNDED.

IN OUR SETTLEMENT OF OCTOBER 4, 1967, YOU WERE ADVISED THAT THE GOVERNMENT RECORDS REGARDING THIS TRANSACTION HAD BEEN DESTROYED PURSUANT TO LAW AND THAT IT COULD NOT NOW BE ASCERTAINED WHETHER OR NOT A REFUND HAD BEEN MADE. CONSEQUENTLY, IN THE ABSENCE OF CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT THE MONEY HAD NOT BEEN REFUNDED WE HAD NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO DISALLOW THE CLAIM.

YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 27, 1967, ENCLOSED AFFIDAVITS OF ALL PARTIES HAVING A BENEFICIAL INTEREST IN THE REFUND AND THEY AVER THAT THE REFUND HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED BY THE COMPANY OR BY THEM AND YOU STATE THAT SUCH AFFIDAVITS SUPPLY THE EVIDENCE NOW NECESSARY TO MAKE THE REFUND.

WE HAVE NO QUESTION BUT THAT THE AFFIDAVITS HONESTLY EXPRESS THE OPINIONS OF THE CLAIMANTS, HOWEVER, SINCE THEY HAVE WAITED MORE THAN 11 YEARS TO FOLLOW UP ON THEIR CLAIM IT MAY VERY WELL BE THAT THE REFUND WAS MADE AND THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT HAVING RECEIVED IT. THERE IS ALSO THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE CHECK COULD HAVE FALLEN INTO THE HANDS OF SOMEONE NOT ENTITLED TO THE PROCEEDS.

AS BETWEEN THE POSSIBILITY THAT ALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM AT THIS TIME MIGHT RESULT IN THE GOVERNMENT HAVING PAID THE REFUND A SECOND TIME AND THE POSSIBILITY THAT ITS DENIAL MIGHT RESULT IN NO REFUND HAVING BEEN PAID AT ALL, WE FEEL THAT WE MUST CHOOSE THE LATTER COURSE INASMUCH AS THE CLAIMANTS HAVE SLEPT ON THEIR RIGHTS FOR A LONG PERIOD OF YEARS AND HAVE ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME FOR THE FACT THAT PAYMENT OR NONPAYMENT CANNOT NOW BE ESTABLISHED. IN ANY EVENT, NOT HAVING RAISED A QUESTION FOR MORE THAN 11 YEARS, THERE ARISES THE PRESUMPTION THAT THE CLAIM WAS PAID IN DUE COURSE AND IT IS OUR VIEW THAT STATEMENTS FROM CLAIMANTS WHICH CANNOT BE VERIFIED OR CORROBORATED BY GOVERNMENT RECORDS ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO OVERCOME SUCH PRESUMPTION.