39 CFR 233.9 - Regulations governing remission or mitigation of administrative, civil, and criminal forfeitures.

§ 233.9 Regulations governing remission or mitigation of administrative, civil, and criminal forfeitures.
(a) Purpose, authority, and scope—
(1) Purpose. This section sets forth the procedures for Postal Inspection Service officials to follow when considering remission or mitigation of administrative forfeitures under the jurisdiction of the Postal Inspection Service. The purpose of these regulations is to provide a basis for the partial or total remission of forfeiture for individuals who have an interest in the forfeited property but who did not participate in, or have knowledge of, the conduct that resulted in the property being subject to forfeiture and, where required, took all reasonable steps under the circumstances to ensure that such property would not be used, acquired, or disposed of contrary to law. Additionally, the regulations provide for partial or total mitigation of the forfeiture and imposition of alternative conditions in appropriate circumstances.
(2) Authority to grant remission and mitigation.
(i) Remission and mitigation functions in administrative forfeitures under the jurisdiction of the Postal Inspection Service are performed by the Chief Counsel.
(ii) Remission and mitigation functions in judicial cases are performed by the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. Within the Criminal Division, authority to grant remission and mitigation is delegated to the Chief, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.
(iii) The powers and responsibilities delegated by the regulations in this section may be re-delegated to attorneys or managers working under the supervision of the Chief Counsel.
(3) Scope. This section governs any petition for remission filed with the Postal Inspection Service and supersedes any Postal Service regulation governing petitions for remission, to the extent such regulation is inconsistent with this section.
(4) Applicability. The time periods and internal requirements established in this section are designed to guide the orderly administration of the remission and mitigation process and are not intended to create rights or entitlements in favor of individuals seeking remission or mitigation. The regulations will apply to all forfeiture actions commenced on or after May 1, 2012.
(b) Definitions. As used in this section:
(1) Administrative forfeiture means the process by which property may be forfeited by the Postal Inspection Service rather than through judicial proceedings. Administrative forfeiture has the same meaning as “nonjudicial forfeiture,” as that term is used in 18 U.S.C. 983.
(2) Appraised value means the estimated market value of an asset at the time and place of seizure if such or similar property was freely offered for sale between a willing seller and a willing buyer.
(3) Assets Forfeiture Fund means the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund, Department of the Treasury Assets Forfeiture Fund, or the Postal Service's Assets Forfeiture Fund, depending upon the identity of the seizing agency.
(4) Attorney General means the Attorney General of the United States or that official's designee.
(5) Beneficial owner means a person with actual use of, as well as an interest in, the property subject to forfeiture.
(6) Chief, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and Chief, refer to the Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, Criminal Division, United States Department of Justice.
(7) General creditor means one whose claim or debt is not secured by a specific right to obtain satisfaction against the particular property subject to forfeiture.
(8) Judgment creditor means one who has obtained a judgment against the debtor but has not yet received full satisfaction of the judgment.
(9) Judicial forfeiture means either a civil or a criminal proceeding in a United States District Court that may result in a final judgment and order of forfeiture.
(10) Lienholder means a creditor whose claim or debt is secured by a specific right to obtain satisfaction against the particular property subject to forfeiture. A lien creditor qualifies as a lienholder if the lien:
(i) Was established by operation of law or contract;
(ii) Was created as a result of an exchange of money, goods, or services; and
(iii) Is perfected against the specific property forfeited for which remission or mitigation is sought (e.g., a real estate mortgage; a mechanic's lien).
(11) Net equity means the amount of a lienholder's monetary interest in the property subject to forfeiture. Net equity shall be computed by determining the amount of unpaid principal and unpaid interest at the time of seizure, and by adding to that sum unpaid interest calculated from the date of seizure through the last full month prior to the date of the decision on the petition. Where a rate of interest is set forth in a security agreement, the rate of interest to be used in this computation will be the annual percentage rate so specified in the security agreement that is the basis of the lienholder's interest. In this computation, however, there shall be no allowances for attorneys' fees, accelerated or enhanced interest charges, amounts set by contract as damages, unearned extended warranty fees, insurance, service contract charges incurred after the date of seizure, allowances for dealer's reserve, or any other similar charges.
(12) Nonjudicial forfeiture has the same meaning as administrative forfeiture as defined in this section.
(13) Owner means the person in who primary title is vested or whose interest is manifested by the actual and beneficial use of the property, even though the title is vested in another. A victim of an offense, as defined in paragraph (b)(22) of this section, may also be an owner if that person has a present legally cognizable ownership interest in the property forfeited. A nominal owner of property will not be treated as its true owner if that person is not its beneficial owner.
(14) Person means an individual, partnership, corporation, joint business enterprise, estate, or other legal entity capable of owning property.
(15) Petition means a petition for remission or mitigation of forfeiture under the regulations in this part. This definition includes a petition for restoration of the proceeds of sale of forfeited property and a petition for the value of the forfeited property placed into official use.
(16) Petitioner means the person applying for remission, mitigation, restoration of the proceeds of sale, or for the appraised value of forfeited property, under this part. A petitioner may be an owner as defined in paragraph (b)(13) of this section, a lienholder as defined in paragraph (b)(10), or a victim as defined in paragraph (b)(22), subject to the limitations of paragraph (h) of this section.
(17) Property means real or personal property of any kind capable of being owned or possessed.
(18) Record means a series of arrests for related crimes, unless the arrestee was acquitted or the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, a conviction for a related crime or completion of sentence within 10 years of the acquisition of the property subject to forfeiture, or two convictions for a related crime at any time in the past.
(19) Related crime as used in paragraphs (b)(18) and (f) of this section means any crime similar in nature to that which gives rise to the seizure of property for forfeiture. For example, where property is seized for a violation of the Federal laws relating to drugs, a related crime would be any offense involving a violation of the Federal laws relating to drugs, or the laws of any state or political subdivision thereof relating to drugs.
(20) Related offense as used in paragraph (h) of this section means:
(i) Any predicate offense charged in a Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) count for which forfeiture was ordered; or
(ii) An offense committed as part of the same scheme or design, or pursuant to the same conspiracy, as was involved in the offense for which forfeiture was ordered.
(21) Ruling Official means any official to whom decision making authority has been delegated pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
(22) Seizing agency means any Federal agency that seized the property or adopted the seizure of another agency for Federal forfeiture.
(23) Victim means a person who has incurred a pecuniary loss as a direct result of the commission of the offense underlying a forfeiture. A drug user is not considered a victim of a drug trafficking offense under this definition. A victim does not include one who acquires a right to sue the perpetrator of the criminal offense for any loss by assignment, subrogation, inheritance, or otherwise from the actual victim, unless that person has acquired an actual ownership interest in the forfeited property; provided however, that if a victim has received compensation from insurance or any other source with respect to a pecuniary loss, remission may be granted to the third party who provided compensation, up to the amount of the victim's pecuniary loss as defined in paragraph (h)(3) of this section.
(24) Violator means the person whose use or acquisition of the property in violation of the law subjected such property to seizure for forfeiture.
(c) Petitions in administrative forfeiture cases.
(1) Notice of seizure. The notice of seizure and intent to forfeit the property shall advise any persons who may have a present ownership interest in the property to submit their petitions for remission or mitigation within 30 days of the date they receive the notice in order to facilitate processing. Petitions shall be considered any time after notice until the property has been forfeited, except in cases involving petitions to restore the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property. A notice of seizure shall include the Ruling Official, the mailing and street address of the official to whom petitions should be sent, and an asset identifier number.
(2) Persons who may file.
(i) A petition for remission or mitigation must be filed by a petitioner as defined in paragraph (b)(16) of this section, or as prescribed in paragraph (i)(7) and (8) of this section. A person or person acting on their behalf may not file a petition if, after notice or knowledge of the fact that a warrant or process has been issued for his apprehension, in order to avoid criminal prosecution the person:
(A) Purposely leaves the jurisdiction of the United States;
(B) Declines to enter or reenter the United States to submit to its jurisdiction; or
(C) Otherwise evades the jurisdiction of the court in which a criminal matter is pending against the person.
(ii) Paragraph (c)(2)(i)(A) of this section applies to a petition filed by a corporation if any majority shareholder, or individual filing the claim on behalf of the corporation:
(A) Purposely leaves the jurisdiction of the United States;
(B) Declines to enter or reenter the United States to submit to its jurisdiction; or
(C) Otherwise evades the jurisdiction of the court in which a criminal case is pending against the person.
(3) Contents of petition.
(i) All petitions must include the following information in clear and concise terms:
(A) The name, address, and social security or other taxpayer identification number of the person claiming an interest in the seized property who is seeking remission or mitigation;
(B) The name of the seizing agency, the asset identifier number, and the date and place of seizure;
(C) A complete description of the property, including make, model, and serial numbers, if any; and
(D) A description of the petitioner's interest in the property as owner, lienholder, or otherwise, supported by original or certified bills of sale, contracts, deeds, mortgages, or other documentary evidence. Such documentation includes evidence establishing the source of funds for seized currency or the source of funds used to purchase the seized asset.
(ii) Any factual recitation or documentation of any type in a petition must be supported by a declaration under penalty of perjury that meets the requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1746.
(4) Releases. In addition to the contents of the petition for remission or mitigation set forth in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, upon request, the petitioner shall also furnish the agency with an instrument executed by the titled or registered owner and any other known claimant of an interest in the property releasing interest in such property.
(5) Filing a petition.
(i) A petition for remission or mitigation subject to administrative forfeiture is to be sent to the official address provided in the notice of seizure and shall be sworn to by the petitioner or by the petitioner's attorney upon information and belief, supported by the client's sworn notice of representation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, as set out in paragraph (i)(7).
(ii) If the notice of seizure does not provide an official address, the petition shall be addressed to the Asset Forfeiture Unit at the following address: Asset Forfeiture Unit, Criminal Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, P.O. Box 44373, Washington, DC 20026-4373.
(iii) Submission by facsimile or other electronic means will not be accepted.
(6) Agency investigation. Upon receipt of a petition, the Postal Inspection Service shall investigate the merits of the petition and prepare a written report containing the results of that investigation. This report shall be submitted to the Ruling Official for review and consideration.
(7) Ruling. Upon receipt of the petition and the agency report, the Ruling Official for the Postal Inspection Service shall review the petition and the report, if any, and shall rule on the merits of the petition. No hearing shall be held.
(8) Petitions granted. If the Ruling Official grants a remission or mitigation of the forfeiture, a copy of the decision shall be mailed to the petitioner or, if represented by an attorney, to the petitioner's attorney. A copy shall also be sent to the U.S. Marshals Service, or other property custodian. The written decision shall include the terms and conditions, if any, upon which the remission or mitigation is granted, and the procedures the petitioner must follow to obtain release of the property or the monetary interest therein.
(9) Petitions denied. If the Ruling Official denies a petition, a copy of the decision shall be mailed to the petitioner or, if represented by an attorney, to the petitioner's attorney of record. A copy of the decision shall also be sent to the U.S. Marshals Service, or other property custodian. The decision shall specify the reason that the petition was denied. The decision shall advise the petitioner that a request for reconsideration of the denial of the petition may be submitted to the Ruling Official in accordance with paragraph (c)(10) of this section.
(10) Request for reconsideration.
(i) A request for reconsideration of the denial of the petition shall be considered if:
(A) It is postmarked or received by the office of the Ruling Official within 10 days from the receipt of the notice of denial of the petition by the petitioner; and
(B) The request is based on information or evidence not previously considered that is material to the basis for the denial or presents a basis clearly demonstrating that the denial was erroneous.
(ii) In no event shall a request for reconsideration be decided by the same Ruling Official who ruled on the original petition.
(iii) Only one request for reconsideration of a denial of a petition shall be considered.
(11) Restoration of proceeds from sale.
(i) A petition for restoration of the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property, or for the appraised value of forfeited property when the forfeited property has been retained by or delivered to a Government agency for official use, may be submitted by an owner or lienholder in cases in which the petitioner:
(A) Did not know of the seizure prior to the entry of a declaration of forfeiture; and
(B) Could not reasonably have known of the seizure prior to the entry of a declaration of forfeiture.
(ii) Such a petition shall be submitted pursuant to paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(5) of this section within 90 days of the date the property is sold or otherwise disposed of.
(d) Petitions in judicial forfeiture cases—
(1) Notice of seizure. The notice of seizure and intent to forfeit the property shall advise any persons who may have a present ownership interest in the property to submit their petitions for remission or mitigation within 30 days of the date they receive the notice in order to facilitate processing. Petitions shall be considered any time after notice until such time as the forfeited property is placed in official use, sold, or otherwise disposed of according to law, except in cases involving petitions to restore property. A notice of seizure shall include the title of the Ruling Official and the mailing and street address of the official to whom petitions should be sent, the name of the agency seizing the property, an asset identifier number, and the district court docket number.
(2) Persons who may file. A petition for remission or mitigation must be filed by a petitioner as defined in paragraph (b)(16) of this section, or as prescribed in paragraph (i)(7) and (8) of this section.
(3) Contents of petition.
(i) All petitions must include the following information in clear and concise terms:
(A) The name, address, and Social Security or other taxpayer identification number of the person claiming an interest in the seized property who is seeking remission or mitigation;
(B) The name of the seizing agency, the asset identifier number, and the date and place of seizure;
(C) The district court docket number;
(D) A complete description of the property, including the address or legal description of real property, and make, model, and serial numbers of personal property, if any; and
(E) A description of the petitioner's interest in the property as owner, lienholder, or otherwise, supported by original or certified bills of sale, contracts, mortgages, deeds, or other documentary evidence.
(ii) Any factual recitation or documentation of any type in a petition must be supported by a declaration under penalty of perjury that meets the requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1746.
(4) Releases. In addition to the content of the petition for remission or mitigation set forth in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, the petitioner, upon request, also shall furnish the agency with an instrument executed by the titled or registered owner and any other known claimant of an interest in the property releasing the interest in such property.
(5) Filing petition with Department of Justice. A petition for remission or mitigation of a judicial forfeiture shall be addressed to the Attorney General; shall be sworn to by the petitioner or by the petitioner's attorney upon information and belief, supported by the client's sworn notice of representation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, as set forth in paragraph (i)(7) of this section; and shall be submitted to the U.S. Attorney for the district in which the judicial forfeiture proceedings are brought.
(6) Agency investigation and recommendation; U.S. Attorney's recommendation. Upon receipt of a petition, the U.S. Attorney shall direct the seizing agency to investigate the merits of the petition based on the information provided by the petitioner and the totality of the agency's investigation of the underlying basis for forfeiture. The agency shall submit to the U.S. Attorney a report of its investigation and its recommendation on whether the petition should be granted or denied. Upon receipt of the agency's report and recommendation, the U.S. Attorney shall forward to the Chief, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, the petition, the seizing agency's report and recommendation, and the U.S. Attorney's recommendation on whether the petition should be granted or denied.
(7) Ruling. The Chief shall rule on the petition. No hearing shall be held. The Chief shall not rule on any petition for remission if such remission was previously denied by the administrative agency pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
(8) Petitions granted. If the Chief grants a remission or mitigates the forfeiture, the Chief shall mail a copy of the decision to the petitioner (or, if represented by an attorney, to the petitioner`s attorney), and shall mail or transmit electronically a copy of the decision to the appropriate U.S. Attorney, the U.S. Marshals Service or other property custodian, and the seizing agency. The written decision shall include the terms and conditions, if any, upon which the remission or mitigation is granted and the procedures the petitioner must follow to obtain release of the property or the monetary interest therein. The Chief shall advise the petitioner or the petitioner`s attorney to consult with the U.S. Attorney as to such terms and conditions. The U.S. Attorney shall confer with the seizing agency regarding the release and shall coordinate disposition of the property with that office and the U.S. Marshals Service or other property custodian.
(9) Petitions denied. If the Chief denies a petition, a copy of that decision shall be mailed to the petitioner (or, if represented by an attorney, to the petitioner`s attorney of record), and mailed or transmitted electronically to the appropriate U.S. Attorney, the U.S. Marshals Service or other property custodian, and the seizing agency. The decision shall specify the reason that the petition was denied. The decision shall advise the petitioner that a request for reconsideration of the denial of the petition may be submitted to the Chief at the address provided in the decision, in accordance with paragraph (d)(10) of this section.
(10) Request for reconsideration.
(i) A request for reconsideration of the denial shall be considered if:
(A) It is postmarked or received by the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section at the address contained in the decision denying the petition within 10 days from the receipt of the notice of denial of the petition by the petitioner;
(B) A copy of the request is also received by the appropriate U.S. Attorney within 10 days of the receipt of the denial by the petitioner; and
(C) The request is based on information or evidence not previously considered that is material to the basis for the denial or presents a basis clearly demonstrating that the denial was erroneous.
(ii) In no event shall a request for reconsideration be decided by the Ruling Official who ruled on the original petition.
(iii) Only one request for reconsideration of a denial of a petition shall be considered.
(iv) Upon receipt of the request for reconsideration of the denial of a petition, disposition of the property will be delayed pending notice of the decision at the request of the Chief. lf the request for reconsideration is not received within the prescribed period, the U.S. Marshals Service may dispose of the property.
(11) Restoration of proceeds from sale.
(i) A petition for restoration of the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property, or for the appraised value of forfeited property when the forfeited property has been retained by or delivered to a Government agency for official use, may be submitted by an owner or lienholder in cases in which the petitioner:
(A) Did not know of the seizure prior to the entry of a final order of forfeiture; and
(B) Could not reasonably have known of the seizure prior to the entry of a final order of forfeiture.
(ii) Such a petition must be submitted pursuant to paragraphs (d)(2) through (d)(5) of this section within 90 days of the date the property was sold or otherwise disposed of.
(e) Criteria governing administrative and judicial remission and mitigation—
(1) Remission.
(i) The Ruling Official shall not grant remission of a forfeiture unless the petitioner establishes that the petitioner has a valid, good faith, and legally cognizable interest in the seized property as owner or lienholder as defined in this part and is an innocent owner within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 983(d)(2)(A) or (d)(3)(A).
(ii) For purposes of this paragraph (e), the knowledge and responsibilities of a petitioner's representative, agent, or employee are imputed to the petitioner where the representative, agent, or employee was acting in the course of that person's employment and in furtherance of the petitioner's business.
(iii) The petitioner has the burden of establishing the basis for granting a petition for remission or mitigation of forfeited property, a restoration of proceeds of sale or appraised value of forfeited property, or a reconsideration of a denial of such a petition. Failure to provide information or documents and to submit to interviews, as requested, may result in a denial of the petition.
(iv) The Ruling Official shall presume a valid forfeiture and shall not consider whether the evidence is sufficient to support the forfeiture.
(v) Willful, materially false statements or information made or furnished by the petitioner in support of a petition for remission or mitigation of forfeited property, the restoration of proceeds or appraised value of forfeited property, or the reconsideration of a denial of any such petition shall be grounds for denial of such petition and possible prosecution for the filing of false statements.
(2) Mitigation.
(i) The Ruling Official may grant mitigation to a party not involved in the commission of the offense underlying forfeiture:
(A) Where the petitioner has not met the minimum conditions for remission, but the Ruling Official finds that some relief should be granted to avoid extreme hardship, and that return of the property combined with imposition of monetary or other conditions of mitigation in lieu of a complete forfeiture will promote the interest of justice and will not diminish the deterrent effect of the law. Extenuating circumstances justifying such a finding include those circumstances that reduce the responsibility of the petitioner for knowledge of the illegal activity, knowledge of the criminal record of a user of the property, or failure to take reasonable steps to prevent the illegal use or acquisition by another for some reason, such as a reasonable fear of reprisal; or
(B) Where the minimum standards for remission have been satisfied but the overall circumstances are such that, in the opinion of the Ruling Official, complete relief is not warranted.
(ii) The Ruling Official may as a matter of discretion grant mitigation to a party involved in the commission of the offense underlying the forfeiture where certain mitigating factors exist, including, but not limited to: The lack of a prior record or evidence of similar criminal conduct; if the violation does not include drug distribution, manufacturing, or importation, the fact that the violator has taken steps, such as drug treatment, to prevent further criminal conduct; the fact that the violation was minimal and was not part of a larger criminal scheme; the fact that the violator has cooperated with Federal, state, or local investigations relating to the criminal conduct underlying the forfeiture; or the fact that complete forfeiture of an asset is not necessary to achieve the legitimate purposes of forfeiture.
(iii) Mitigation may take the form of a monetary condition or the imposition of other conditions relating to the continued use of the property, and the return of the property, in addition to the imposition of any other costs that would be chargeable as a condition to remission. This monetary condition is considered as an item of cost payable by the petitioner, and shall be deposited into the Postal Inspection Service's Fund as an amount realized from forfeiture in accordance with the applicable statute. If the petitioner fails to accept the Ruling Official's mitigation decision or any of its conditions, or fails to pay the monetary amount within 20 days of the receipt of the decision, the property shall be sold, and the monetary amount imposed and other costs chargeable as a condition to mitigation shall be subtracted from the proceeds of the sale before transmitting the remainder to the petitioner.
(f) Special rules for specific petitioners—
(1) General creditors. A general creditor may not be granted remission or mitigation of forfeiture unless that person otherwise qualifies as petitioner under this part.
(2) Rival claimants. If the beneficial owner of the forfeited property and the owner of a security interest in the same property each files a petition, and if both petitions are found to be meritorious, the claims of the beneficial owner shall take precedence.
(3) Voluntary bailments. A petitioner who allows another to use the petitioner's property without cost, and who is not in the business of lending money secured by property or of leasing or renting property for profit, shall be granted remission or mitigation of forfeiture in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (e) of this section.
(4) Lessors. A person engaged in the business of leasing or renting real or personal property on a long-term basis with the right to sublease shall not be entitled to remission or mitigation of a forfeiture of such property unless the lessor can demonstrate compliance with all the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section.
(5) Straw owners. A petition by any person who has acquired a property interest recognizable under this part, and who knew or had reason to believe that the interest was conveyed by the previous owner for the purpose of circumventing seizure, forfeiture, or the regulations in this part, shall be denied. A petition by a person who purchases or owns property for another who has a record for related crimes as defined in paragraph (b)(19), or a petition by a lienholder who knows or has reason to believe that the purchaser or owner of record is not the real purchaser or owner, shall be denied unless both the purchaser of record and the real purchaser or owner meet the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section.
(6) Judgment creditors.
(i) A judgment creditor will be recognized as a lienholder if:
(A) The judgment was duly recorded before the seizure of the property for forfeiture;
(B) Under applicable state or other local law, the judgment constitutes a valid lien on the property that attached to it before the seizure of the property for forfeiture; and
(C) The petitioner had no knowledge of the commission of any act or acts giving rise to the forfeiture at the time the judgment became a lien on the forfeited property.
(ii) A judgment creditor will not be recognized as a lienholder if the property in question is not property of which the judgment debtor is entitled to claim ownership under applicable state or other local law (e.g., stolen property). A judgment creditor is entitled under this part to no more than the amount of the judgment, exclusive of any interest, costs, or other fees including attorney's fees associated with the action that led to the judgment or its collection.
(iii) A judgment creditor's lien must be registered in the district where the property is located if the judgment was obtained outside the district.
(g) Terms and conditions of remission and mitigation—
(1) Owners.
(i) An owner's interest in property that has been forfeited is represented by the property itself or by a monetary interest equivalent to that interest at the time of seizure. Whether the property or a monetary equivalent will be remitted to an owner shall be determined at the discretion of the Ruling Official.
(ii) If a civil judicial forfeiture action against the property is pending, release of the property must await an appropriate court order.
(iii) Where the Government sells or disposes of the property prior to the grant of the remission, the owner shall receive the proceeds of that sale, less any costs incurred by the Government in the sale. The Ruling Official, as a matter of discretion, may waive the deduction of costs and expenses incident to the forfeiture.
(iv) Where the owner does not comply with the conditions imposed upon release of the property by the Ruling Official, the property shall be sold. Following the sale, the proceeds shall be used to pay all costs of the forfeiture and disposition of the property, in addition to any monetary conditions imposed. The remaining balance shall be paid to the owner.
(2) Lienholders.
(i) When the forfeited property is to be retained for official use or transferred to a state or local law enforcement agency or foreign government pursuant to law, and remission or mitigation has been granted to a lienholder, the recipient of the property shall assure that:
(A) In the case of remission, the lien is satisfied as determined through the petition process; or
(B) In the case of mitigation, an amount equal to the net equity, less any monetary conditions imposed, is paid to the lienholder prior to the release of the property to the recipient agency of foreign government.
(ii) When the forfeited property is not retained for official use or transferred to another agency or foreign government pursuant to law, the lienholder shall be notified by the Ruling Official of the right to select either of the following alternatives:
(A) Return of Property. The lienholder may obtain possession of the property after paying the United States, through the Ruling Official, the costs and expenses incident to the forfeiture, the amount, if any, by which the appraised value of the property exceeds the lienholder's net equity in the property, and any amount specified in the Ruling Official's decision as a condition to remit the property. The Ruling Official, as a matter of discretion, may waive costs and expenses incident to the forfeiture. The Ruling Official shall forward a copy of the decision, a memorandum of disposition, and the original releases to the division or field office responsible for the seizure and custody of the property or, if applicable, to the U.S. Marshals Service, who shall thereafter release the property to the lienholder; or
(B) Sale of Property and Payment to Lienholder. Subject to the provisions of paragraph (i)(1) of this section, upon sale of the property, the lienholder may receive the payment of a monetary amount up to the sum of the lienholder's net equity, less the expenses and costs incident to the forfeiture and sale of the property, and any other monetary conditions imposed. The Ruling Official, as a matter of discretion, may waive costs and expenses incident to the forfeiture.
(iii) If the lienholder does not notify the Ruling Official of the selection of one of the two options set forth in this paragraph (g)(2)(ii) within 20 days of the receipt of notification, the Ruling Official shall direct the division or field office responsible for the seizure or custody, or if applicable, the U.S. Marshals Service, to sell the property and pay the lienholder an amount up to the net equity, less the costs and expenses incurred incident to the forfeiture and sale, and any monetary conditions imposed. In the event a lienholder subsequently receives a payment of any kind on the debt owed for which he or she received payment as a result of the granting of remission or mitigation, the lienholder shall reimburse the Postal Service Forfeiture Fund to the extent of the payment received.
(iv) Where the lienholder does not comply with the conditions imposed upon the release of the property, the property shall be sold after forfeiture. From the proceeds of the sale, all costs incident to the forfeiture and sale shall first be deducted, and the balance up to the net equity, less any monetary conditions, shall be paid to the lienholder.
(h) Remission procedures for victims. This section applies to victims of an offense underlying the forfeiture of property, or of a related offense, who do not have a present ownership interest in the forfeited property (or, in the case of multiple victims of an offense, who do not have a present ownership interest in the forfeited property that is clearly superior to that of other petitioner victims). This section applies only with respect to property forfeited pursuant to statutes that explicitly authorize restoration or remission of forfeited property to victims. A victim requesting remission under this section may concurrently request remission as an owner, pursuant to the regulations set forth in paragraphs (c), (d), and (g) of this section. The claims of victims granted remission as both an owner and victim shall, like other owners, have priority over the claims of any non-owner victims whose claims are recognized under this section.
(1) Remission procedure for victims—
(i) Where to file. Persons seeking remission as victims shall file petitions for remission with the appropriate deciding official as described in paragraph (c)(5) (administrative forfeiture) or (d)(5) (judicial forfeiture) of this section.
(ii) Time of decision. The Ruling Official or that person's designee as described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section may consider petitions filed by persons claiming eligibility for remission as victims at any time prior to the disposal of the forfeited property in accordance with law.
(iii) Request for reconsideration. Persons denied remission under this section may request reconsideration of the denial, in accordance with paragraph (c)(10) (administrative forfeiture) or (d)(10) (judicial forfeiture) of this section.
(2) Qualification to file. A victim, as defined in paragraph (b)(22) of this section, may be granted remission, if in addition to complying with the other applicable provisions of this paragraph (h), the victim satisfactorily demonstrates that:
(i) A pecuniary loss of a specific amount has been directly caused by the criminal offense, or related offense, that was the underlying basis for the forfeiture, and that the loss is supported by documentary evidence including invoices and receipts;
(ii) The pecuniary loss is the direct result of the illegal acts and is not the result of otherwise lawful acts that were committed in the course of a criminal offense;
(iii) The victim did not knowingly contribute to, participate in, benefit from, or act in a willfully blind manner towards commission of the offense, or related offense, that was the underlying basis of the forfeiture;
(iv) The victim has not in fact been compensated for the wrongful loss of the property by the perpetrator or others; and
(v) The victim does not have recourse reasonably available to other assets from which to obtain compensation for the wrongful loss of the property.
(3) Pecuniary loss. The amount of the pecuniary loss suffered by a victim for which remission may be granted is limited to the fair market value of the property of which the victim was deprived as of the date of the occurrence of the loss. No allowance shall be made for interest forgone or for collateral expenses incurred to recover lost property or to seek other recompense.
(4) Torts. A tort associated with illegal activity that formed the basis for the forfeiture shall not be a basis for remission, unless it constitutes the illegal activity itself, nor shall remission be granted for physical injuries to a petitioner or for damage to a petitioner's property.
(5) Denial of petition. As a matter of discretion, the Ruling Official may decline to grant remission where:
(i) There is substantial difficulty in calculating the pecuniary loss incurred by the victim or victims;
(ii) The amount of the remission, if granted, would be small compared with the amount of expenses incurred by the Government in determining whether to grant remission; or
(iii) The total number of victims is large and the monetary amount of the remission so small as to make its granting impractical.
(6) Pro rata basis. In granting remission to multiple victims pursuant to this section, the Ruling Official should generally grant remission on a pro rata basis to recognized victims when petitions cannot be granted in full due to the limited value of the forfeited property. However, the Ruling Official may consider, among others, the following factors in establishing appropriate priorities in individual cases:
(i) The specificity and reliability of the evidence establishing a loss;
(ii) The fact that a particular victim is suffering an extreme financial hardship;
(iii) The fact that a particular victim has cooperated with the Government in the investigation related to the forfeiture or to a related persecution or civil action; and
(iv) In the case of petitions filed by multiple victims of related offenses, the fact that a particular victim is a victim of the offense underlying the forfeiture.
(7) Reimbursement. Any petitioner granted remission pursuant to this part shall reimburse the Postal Service Forfeiture Fund for the amount received, to the extent the individual later receives compensation for the loss of property from any other source. The petitioner shall surrender the reimbursement upon payment from any secondary source.
(8) Claims of financial institution regulatory agencies. In cases involving property forfeitable under 18 U.S.C. 981(a)(1)(C) or (D), the Ruling Official may decline to grant a petition filed by a petitioner in whole or in part due to the lack of sufficient forfeitable funds to satisfy both the petitioner and claims of the financial institution regulatory agencies pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981(e)(3) or (7). Generally, claims of financial institution regulatory agencies pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981(e)(3) or (7) shall take priority over claims of victims.
(9) Amount of remission. Consistent with the Assets Forfeiture Fund statute (28 U.S.C. 524(c)), the amount of remission shall not exceed the victim's share of the net proceeds of the forfeitures associated with the activity that caused the victim's loss. The calculation of net proceeds includes, but is not limited to, the deduction of allowable Government expenses and valid third-party claims.
(i) Miscellaneous provisions—
(1) Priority of payment. Except where otherwise provided in this part, costs incurred by the Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other agencies participating in the forfeiture that were incident to the forfeiture, sale, or other disposition of the property shall be deducted from the amount available for remission or mitigation. Such costs include, but are not limited to, court costs, storage costs, brokerage and other sales-related costs, the amount of any liens and associated costs paid by the Government on the property, costs incurred in paying the ordinary and necessary expenses of a business seized for forfeiture, awards for information as authorized by statute, expenses of trustees or other assistants pursuant to paragraph (i)(3) of this section, investigative or prosecutorial costs specially incurred incident to the particular forfeiture, and costs incurred incident to the processing of petitions for remission or mitigation. The remaining balance shall be available for remission or mitigation. The Ruling Official shall direct the distribution of the remaining balance in the following order or priority, except that the Ruling Official may exercise discretion in determining the priority between petitioners belonging to classes described in paragraph (i)(1)(iii) and (iv) of this section in exceptional circumstances:
(i) Owners;
(ii) Lienholders;
(iii) Federal financial institution regulatory agencies (pursuant to paragraph (i)(5) of this section), not constituting owners or lienholders; and
(iv) Victims not constituting owners or lienholders pursuant to paragraph (h) of this part.
(2) Sale or disposition of property prior to ruling. If forfeited property has been sold or otherwise disposed of prior to a ruling, the Ruling Official may grant relief in the form of a monetary amount. The amount realized by the sale of property is presumed to be the value of the property. Monetary relief shall not be greater than the appraised value of the property at the time of seizure and shall not exceed the amount realized from the sale or other disposition. The proceeds of the sale shall be distributed as follows:
(i) Payment of the Government's expenses incurred incident to the forfeiture and sale, including court costs and storage charges, if any;
(ii) Payment to the petitioner of an amount up to that person's interest in the property;
(iii) Payment to the Postal Service Forfeiture Fund of all other costs and expenses incident to the forfeiture;
(iv) In the case of victims, payment of any amount up to the amount of that person's loss; and
(v) Payment of the balance remaining, if any, to the Postal Service Forfeiture Fund.
(3) Trustees and other assistants. As a matter of discretion, the Ruling Official, with the approval of the Chief Postal Inspector, may use the services of a trustee, other Government official, or appointed contractors to notify potential petitioners, process petitions, and make recommendations to the Ruling Official on the distribution of property to petitioners. The expense for such assistance shall be paid out of the forfeited funds.
(4) Other agencies of the United States. Where another agency of the United States is entitled to remission or mitigation of forfeited assets because of an interest that is recognizable under this part or is eligible for such transfer pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981(e)(6), such agency shall request the transfer in writing, in addition to complying with any applicable provisions of paragraphs (c) through (e) of this section. The decision to make such transfer shall be made in writing by the Ruling Official.
(5) Financial institution regulatory agencies. A Ruling Official may direct the transfer of property under 18 U.S.C. 981(e) to certain Federal financial institution regulatory agencies or an entity acting in their behalf, upon receipt of a written request, in lieu of ruling on a petition for remission or mitigation.
(6) Transfers to foreign governments. A Ruling Official may decline to grant remission to any petitioner other than an owner or lienholder so that forfeited assets may be transferred to a foreign government pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981(i)(1); 19 U.S.C. 1616a(c)(2); or 21 U.S.C. 881(e)(1)(E).
(7) Filing by attorneys.
(i) A petition for remission or mitigation may be filed by a petitioner or by that person's attorney or legal guardian. If an attorney files on behalf of the petitioner, the petition must include a signed and sworn statement by the client-petitioner stating that:
(A) The attorney has the authority to represent the petitioner in this proceeding;
(B) The petitioner has fully reviewed the petition; and
(C) The petition is truthful and accurate in every respect.
(ii) Verbal notification of representation is not acceptable. Responses and notification of rulings shall not be sent to an attorney claiming to represent a petitioner unless a written notice of representation is filed. No extensions of time shall be granted due to delays in submission of the notice of representation.
(8) Consolidated petitions. At the discretion of the Ruling Official in individual cases, a petition may be filed by one petitioner on behalf of other petitioners, provided the petitions are based on similar underlying facts, and the petitioner who files the petition has written authority to do so on behalf of other petitioners. This authority must be either expressed in documents giving the petitioner the authority to file petitions for remission, or reasonably implied from documents giving the petitioner express authority to file claims or lawsuits related to the course of conduct in question on behalf of these petitioners. An insurer or an administrator of an employee benefit plan, for example, which itself has standing to file a petition as a “victim” within the meaning of paragraph (b)(22) of this section, may also file a petition on behalf of its insured or plan beneficiaries for any claims they may have based on co-payments made to the perpetrator of the offense underlying the forfeiture, or the perpetrator of a “related offense” within the meaning of paragraph (b)(20), if the authority to file claims or lawsuits is contained in the document or documents establishing the plan. Where such a petition is filed, any amounts granted as remission must be transferred to the other petitioners, not the party filing the petition; although, as a matter of discretion, the Ruling Official may use the actual petitioner as an intermediary for transferring the amounts authorized as a remission to the other petitioners.
[77 FR 25602, May 1, 2012]

Title 39 published on 2014-07-01

no entries appear in the Federal Register after this date.

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

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United States Code
U.S. Code: Title 12 - BANKS AND BANKING
U.S. Code: Title 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
U.S. Code: Title 21 - FOOD AND DRUGS
U.S. Code: Title 39 - POSTAL SERVICE
Public Laws