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U.S. Supreme Court

Clark v. Uebersee Finanz-Korporation, A.G., 332 U.S. 480 (1947)

Clark v. Uebersee Finanz-Korporation, A.G.

No. 35

Argued May 1, 1947

Reargued November 12, 1947

Decided December 8, 1947

332 U.S. 480


1. Respondent, a corporation organized under the laws of Switzerland and having its principal place of business in that country, sued under § 9(a) of the Trading with the Enemy Act to reclaim property which the Alien Property Custodian had vested in himself under § 5(b), as amended by the First War Powers Act of 1941. The property seized consisted of shares of stock in corporations organized under the laws of various States of this Nation and of an interest in a contract between two such corporations, and, according to the allegations of the complaint, which are assumed to be true, was free of all enemy taint -- i.e., the corporations whose shares had been seized, the corporations which had a contract in which respondent had an interest, and respondent itself, were corporations in which no enemy, ally of an enemy, or any national of either, had any interest of any kind whatsoever, and respondent had not done business in the territory of the enemy or any ally of an enemy.

Held: Respondent is entitled to maintain the suit. Pp. 332 U. S. 482-490.

Page 332 U. S. 481

2. By the amendment to § 5(b) of the Trading with the Enemy Act contained in the First War Powers Act of 1941, the property of all foreign interests was placed within reach of the vesting power, not to appropriate friendly or neutral assets, but to reach enemy interests which masquerade under those innocent fronts. Pp. 332 U. S. 484-486.

3. Although §§ 2 and 9(a) were not amended in 1941, they must be read harmoniously with § 5(b) as amended in 1941, so as not to defeat the purpose of the 1941 amendment. Pp. 332 U. S. 486-489.

4. Section 2, defining the terms "enemy" and "ally of enemy," must be read differently than it was previously, so as to give the concept of enemy or ally of enemy a scope which helps the 1941 amendment fulfill its mission without nullifying § 9(a). P. 332 U. S. 489.

5. When §§ 2, 5(b) and 9(a) are thus read together harmoniously, § 9(a) cannot be construed as affording no remedy for the recovery of property by foreign interests which have no possible connection with the enemy, merely because such property was made subject to seizure under § 5(a), as amended. Pp. 332 U. S. 486-489.

81 U.S.App.D.C. 284, 158 F.2d 313, affirmed.

The District Court dismissed a suit brought by respondent under § 9(a) of the Trading with the Enemy Act to recover property vested by the Alien Property Custodian in himself under § 5(b), as amended by the First War Powers Act of 1941. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed. 81 U.S.App.D.C. 284, 158 F.2d 313. This Court granted certiorari. 330 U.S. 813. Affirmed, p. 332 U. S. 490.

Page 332 U. S. 482

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