Request for Relief of Liability

B-197324: Published: Mar 7, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 7, 1980.

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GAO was requested to grant relief to a Regional Commissioner of Customs for the loss of $750.80 in his account resulting from an uncollectible debit voucher. The shortage resulted from two personal checks being accepted by a customs officer from a person who falsely identified herself. The check for $50.80 was for payment of duties and the other, in the amount of $700, was for payment of penalties assessed for failing to declare merchandise. The checks were not honored and were returned by the bank due to unauthorized signatures. An investigation revealed that the checks had been stolen and had been falsely issued. GAO is authorized to grant relief from liability to an accountable officer only upon (1) its concurrence with determinations by the agency head that the loss or deficiency occurred while the officer or agent was discharging his official duties, or that it occurred through an act or omission of a subordinate of the agent, and (2) the loss or deficiency occurred without fault or negligence on the part of the agent. GAO agreed with the agency finding that the loss suffered by the commissioner was through no fault or negligence on his part and granted relief to him.

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