B259783 January 26, 1995

B-259783: Jan 26, 1995

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Cam Thi Tran Dear Sir or Madam: We are forwarding a letter from Mr. Tran alleges that he was employed by the "U.S. Tran may have resided in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam from 1975 until his relatively recent arrival in the United States. A claim against the government cannot ordinarily be considered unless the claim is received by the General Accounting Office. The Secretary of the Treasury is required to prohibit any checks drawn on public money from being sent to an individual payee in a foreign country if the Secretary deterrnines that the conditions in that country do not reasonably ensure that the payee will receive the check and be able to negotiate it for full value. Sec. 211.1(a) (1993) (Secretary of the `Treasury's determination that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is such a country).

B259783 January 26, 1995

(no digest)

Defense Finance and Accounting Service Cleveland Center 1240 East Ninth Street Cleveland, OH 44199-2059

Re: Claim of Mr. Cam Thi Tran

Dear Sir or Madam:

We are forwarding a letter from Mr. Cam Thi Tran, dated November 21, 1994 (enclosed), for development and review by your office. In that letter Mr. Tran alleges that he was employed by the "U.S. Army and ITT/FEC" in the Republic of Vietnam, and has filed a claim for his final compensation payment for April, 1975. It appears that Mr. Tran may have resided in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam from 1975 until his relatively recent arrival in the United States, presumably under the State Department's Orderly Departure Program.

A claim against the government cannot ordinarily be considered unless the claim is received by the General Accounting Office, or the department or agency out of whose activities the claim arose, within 6 years from the date the claim accrued. 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(b) (1988) and 4 C.F.R. Sec. 31.5(a) (1994). However, as our Office recognized in Xie Qianhao, 70 Comp.Gen. 612 (1991), under the provisions of 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3329 (1988), the Secretary of the Treasury is required to prohibit any checks drawn on public money from being sent to an individual payee in a foreign country if the Secretary deterrnines that the conditions in that country do not reasonably ensure that the payee will receive the check and be able to negotiate it for full value. See 31 C.F.R. Sec. 211.1(a) (1993) (Secretary of the `Treasury's determination that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is such a country). Title 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3329(b)(3) and (b)(4) (1988) further provides that the amount of any withheld check be deposited into a special deposit account for withheld foreign checks, or that the Secretary may adopt an alternative procedure to handle such withheld funds. We also recognized, in lieu of writing checks and depositing them in the special deposit trust fund, the Secretary of the `Treasury adopted an alternative procedure in 1964, namely, that in place of drawing a check or warrant which would be withheld under 31 C.F.R. Sec. 211, the drawer agency will withhold payment and will establish the liability on its books. In Xie Qianhao, supra, our Office held that the Barring Act of 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(b) (1988) does not apply to a claim to recover funds that have been deposited in a trust fund, and that funds in the special deposit account for the proceeds of withheld foreign checks, or funds withheld under the alternative procedure adopted by the Secretary of the `Treasury are considered trust funds.

We also note that 4 C.F.R. Sec. 31.7 (1994) provides that:

"[c]laims are settled on the basis of the facts as established by the Government agency concerned and by evidence submitted by the claimant. Settlements are founded on a determination of the legal liability of the United States under the factual situation involved as established by the written record. The burden is on claimants to establish the liability of the United States, and the claimants' right to payment. The settlement of claims is based upon the written record only."

In view of the foregoing, we request that your office determine whether Mr. Tran was employed by the Department of the Army and if so, whether any of Mr. Tran's compensation records still exist. In the event that they do not exist, we further request that you attempt to contact his former supervisors, other employees, or other persons who may be able to verify his account of events to enable your office to settle his claim.

If, after reviewing the claim, you determine that doubtful questions of law exist which prevent you from settling the matter, you may return the claim to us, along with your administrative report. Please send any correspondence to:

Sharon Green Director of Adjudication Office of the General Counsel U.S. General Accounting Office 441 G Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20548

If you need to contact our Office, please all Ms. Paula A. Porter at (202) 512-5294.

By copy of this letter, as indicated below, the claimant is being advised that his claim has been sent to your office.