19 U.S. Code § 1491 - Unclaimed merchandise; disposition of forfeited distilled spirits, wines and malt liquor
Any entered or unentered merchandise (except merchandise entered under section 1557 of this title, but including merchandise entered for transportation in bond or for exportation) which shall remain in a bonded warehouse pursuant to section 1490 of this title for 6 months from the date of importation thereof, without all estimated duties, taxes, fees, interest, storage, or other charges thereon having been paid, shall be considered unclaimed and abandoned to the Government and shall be appraised and sold by the Customs Service at public auction under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe. All gunpowder and other explosive substances and merchandise liable to depreciation in value by damage, leakage, or other cause to such extent that the proceeds of sale thereof may be insufficient to pay the duties, taxes, fees, interest, storage, and other charges, if permitted to remain in  pursuant to section 1490 of this title in a bonded warehouse for 6 months, may be sold forthwith, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe. Merchandise subject to sale hereunder or under section 1559 of this title may be entered or withdrawn for consumption at any time prior to such sale upon payment of all duties, taxes, fees, interest, storage, and other charges, and expenses that may have accrued thereon, but such merchandise after becoming subject to sale may not be exported prior to sale without the payment of such duties, taxes, fees, interest, charges, and expenses nor may it be entered for warehouse. The computation of duties, taxes, interest, and fees for the purposes of this section and sections 1493 and 1559 of this title shall be at the rate or rates applicable at the time the merchandise becomes subject to sale.
If title to any merchandise vests in the United States by operation of subsection (b) of this section, such merchandise may be retained by the Customs Service for official use, transferred to any other Federal agency or to any State or local agency, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary shall prescribe. All transfer and storage charges or expenses accruing on retained or transferred merchandise shall be paid by the receiving agency.
Whenever any party, having lost a substantial interest in merchandise by virtue of title vesting in the United States under subsection (b) of this section, can establish such title or interest to the satisfaction of the Secretary within 30 days after the day on which title vests in the United States under subsection (b) of this section, or can establish to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the party did not receive notice under subsection (b) of this section, the Secretary may, upon receipt of a timely and proper petition and upon finding that the facts and circumstances warrant, pay such party out of the Treasury of the United States the amount the Secretary believes the party would have received under section 1493 of this title had the merchandise been sold and a proper claim filed. The decision of the Secretary with respect to any such petition is final and conclusive on all parties.
 So in original. The word “in” probably should not appear.
Provisions similar to those in this section were contained in R.S. §§ 2973, 2975 and 2976, all of which were superseded by act Sept. 21, 1922, ch. 356, title IV, § 491, 42 Stat. 963, and repealed by section 642 thereof. Section 491 of the 1922 act was superseded by section 491 of act June 17, 1930, comprising this section, and repealed by section 651(a)(1) of the 1930 act.
1996—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 104–295 substituted “in a bonded warehouse pursuant to section 1490” for “in in a bonded warehouse pursuant to section 1490” and “Customs Service” for “appropriate customs officer”.
1993—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 103–182, § 659(1), substituted “in a bonded warehouse pursuant to section 1490 of this title for 6 months” for “customs custody for one year”, “estimated duties, taxes, fees, interest, storage,” for “estimated duties and storage”, “duties, taxes, fees, interest, storage, and other charges, if permitted” for “duties, storage, and other charges, if permitted”, “pursuant to section 1490 of this title in a bonded warehouse for 6 months” for “public store or bonded warehouse for a period of one year”, “duties, taxes, fees, interest, storage, and other charges” for “duties, storage, and other charges”, “duties, taxes, fees, interest, charges, and expenses” for “duties, charges, and expenses”, and “computation of duties, taxes, interest, and fees for the purposes” for “computation of duties for the purposes”.
Subsecs. (b) to (d). Pub. L. 103–182, § 659(2), added subsecs. (b) to (d). Former subsec. (b) redesignated (e).
Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 103–182, § 659(2), (3), redesignated subsec. (b) as (e) and substituted “Customs Service” for “appropriate customs officer” in par. (3).
1978—Pub. L. 95–410 amended section catchline, designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), and added subsec. (b).
1970—Pub. L. 91–271 substituted reference to appropriate customs officer for reference to collector, and struck out reference to appraiser of merchandise.
1938—Act June 25, 1938, amended generally so much of this section as preceded “shall be considered unclaimed and abandoned”.
Amendment by act June 25, 1938, effective on thirtieth day following June 25, 1938, except as otherwise specifically provided, see section 37 of act June 25, 1938, set out as a note under section 1401 of this title.
For transfer of functions, personnel, assets, and liabilities of the United States Customs Service of the Department of the Treasury, including functions of the Secretary of the Treasury relating thereto, to the Secretary of Homeland Security, and for treatment of related references, see sections 203(1), 551(d), 552(d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.
Proc. No. 2599, Nov. 6, 1943, 8 F.R. 15359,57 Stat. 758, as amended by Proc. No. 2712, Dec. 4, 1946, 11 F.R. 14133,61 Stat. 1947, was superseded by Proc. No. 2948, Oct. 12, 1951, 16 F.R. 10589, 65 Stat. c41.
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