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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Chapter 45

Section 45.027

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45.027 INVESTIGATIONS AND SUBPOENAS.
    Subdivision 1. General powers. In connection with the duties and responsibilities entrusted
to the commissioner, and Laws 1993, chapter 361, section 2, the commissioner of commerce may:
(1) make public or private investigations within or without this state as the commissioner
considers necessary to determine whether any person has violated or is about to violate any law,
rule, or order related to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner;
(2) require or permit any person to file a statement in writing, under oath or otherwise as
the commissioner determines, as to all the facts and circumstances concerning the matter being
investigated;
(3) hold hearings, upon reasonable notice, in respect to any matter arising out of the duties
and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner;
(4) conduct investigations and hold hearings for the purpose of compiling information related
to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner;
(5) examine the books, accounts, records, and files of every licensee, and of every person who
is engaged in any activity regulated; the commissioner or a designated representative shall have
free access during normal business hours to the offices and places of business of the person, and
to all books, accounts, papers, records, files, safes, and vaults maintained in the place of business;
(6) publish information which is contained in any order issued by the commissioner; and
(7) require any person subject to duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner, to
report all sales or transactions that are regulated. The reports must be made within ten days after
the commissioner has ordered the report. The report is accessible only to the respondent and other
governmental agencies unless otherwise ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
    Subd. 1a. Response to department requests. An applicant, registrant, certificate holder,
licensee, or other person subject to the jurisdiction of the commissioner shall comply with requests
for information, documents, or other requests from the department within the time specified in the
request, or, if no time is specified, within 30 days of the mailing of the request by the department.
Applicants, registrants, certificate holders, licensees, or other persons subject to the jurisdiction
of the commissioner shall appear before the commissioner or the commissioner's representative
when requested to do so and shall bring all documents or materials that the commissioner or the
commissioner's representative has requested.
    Subd. 2. Power to compel production of evidence. For the purpose of any investigation,
hearing, proceeding, or inquiry related to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the
commissioner, the commissioner or a designated representative may administer oaths and
affirmations, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, take evidence, and require the
production of books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, agreements, or other documents or
records that the commissioner considers relevant or material to the inquiry.
    Subd. 3. Court orders. In case of a refusal to appear or a refusal to obey a subpoena issued
to any person, the district court, upon application by the commissioner, may issue to any person
an order directing that person to appear before the commissioner, or the officer designated by the
commissioner, there to produce documentary evidence if so ordered or to give evidence relating
to the matter under investigation or in question. Failure to obey the order of the court may be
punished by the court as a contempt of court.
    Subd. 4. Scope of privilege. No person is excused from attending and testifying or from
producing any document or record before the commissioner, or from obedience to the subpoena of
the commissioner or any officer designated by the commissioner or in a proceeding instituted by
the commissioner, on the ground that the testimony or evidence required may tend to incriminate
that person or subject that person to a penalty of forfeiture. No person may be prosecuted or
subjected to a penalty or forfeiture for or on account of a transaction, matter, or thing concerning
which the person is compelled, after claiming the privilege against self-incrimination, to testify
or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise, except that the individual is not exempt from
prosecution and punishment for perjury or contempt committed in testifying.
    Subd. 5. Legal actions; injunctions. Whenever it appears to the commissioner that any
person has engaged or is about to engage in any act or practice constituting a violation of any
law, rule, or order related to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner, the
commissioner may bring an action in the name of the state in Ramsey County District Court or the
district court of an appropriate county to enjoin the acts or practices and to enforce compliance,
or the commissioner may refer the matter to the attorney general or the county attorney of the
appropriate county. A permanent injunction or other appropriate relief must be granted based
solely upon a showing that the person has engaged or is about to engage in an act or practice
constituting a violation of a law, rule, cease and desist order, or other order related to the duties
and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner. The terms of this subdivision govern an action
brought under this subdivision, including an action against a person who, for whatever reason,
claims that the subject law, rule, cease and desist order or other order does not apply to the person.
    Subd. 5a. Cease and desist orders. (a) Whenever it appears to the commissioner that a
person has engaged or is about to engage in an act or practice constituting a violation of a
law, rule, or order related to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner, the
commissioner may issue and cause to be served upon the person an order requiring the person
to cease and desist from violations.
(b) The cease and desist order must be calculated to give reasonable notice of the rights of the
person to request a hearing and must state the reasons for the entry of the order. A hearing must
be held not later than ten days after the request for the hearing is received by the commissioner.
After the completion of the hearing, the administrative law judge shall issue a report within ten
days. Within 15 days after receiving the administrative law judge's report, the commissioner shall
issue a further order vacating or making permanent the cease and desist order. The time periods
provided in this provision may be waived by agreement of the person requesting the hearing and
the Department of Commerce and the person against whom the cease and desist order is issued. If
the person to whom a cease and desist order is issued fails to appear at the hearing after being
duly notified, the person is in default, and the proceeding may be determined against that person
upon consideration of the cease and desist order, the allegations of which may be considered to
be true. Unless otherwise provided, all hearings must be conducted according to chapter 14.
The commissioner may adopt rules of procedure concerning all proceedings conducted under
this subdivision.
(c) If no hearing is requested within 30 days of service of the order, the cease and desist
order will become permanent.
(d) A cease and desist order issued under this subdivision remains in effect until it is modified
or vacated by the commissioner. The administrative proceeding provided by this subdivision, and
subsequent appellate judicial review of that administrative proceeding, constitutes the exclusive
remedy for determining whether the commissioner properly issued the cease and desist order and
whether the cease and desist order should be vacated or made permanent.
    Subd. 5b. Enforcement of violations of cease and desist orders. (a) Whenever the
commissioner under subdivision 5 seeks to enforce compliance with a cease and desist order that
has been made permanent, the allegations in the cease and desist order are considered conclusively
established for purposes of a proceeding under subdivision 5 for permanent or temporary relief
to enforce the cease and desist order. Whenever the commissioner under subdivision 5 seeks to
enforce compliance with a cease and desist order when a hearing or hearing request on the cease
and desist order is pending, or the time has not yet expired to request a hearing on whether a cease
and desist order should be vacated or made permanent, the allegations in the cease and desist
order are considered conclusively established for purposes of a proceeding under subdivision 5
for temporary relief to enforce the cease and desist order.
(b) Notwithstanding this subdivision or subdivision 5 or 5a to the contrary, the person against
whom the cease and desist order is issued and who has requested a hearing under subdivision
5a may within 15 days after service of cease and desist order bring an action in Ramsey County
District Court for issuance of an injunction to suspend enforcement of the cease and desist order
pending a final decision of the commissioner under subdivision 5a to vacate or make permanent
the cease and desist order. The court shall determine whether to issue such an injunction based
on traditional principles of temporary relief.
    Subd. 6. Violations and penalties. The commissioner may impose a civil penalty not to
exceed $10,000 per violation upon a person who violates any law, rule, or order related to the
duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner unless a different penalty is specified. If
a civil penalty is imposed on a health carrier as defined in section 62A.011, the commissioner
must divide 50 percent of the amount among any policy holders or certificate holders affected by
the violation, unless the commissioner certifies in writing that the division and distribution to
enrollees would be too administratively complex or that the number of enrollees affected by the
penalty would result in a distribution of less than $50 per enrollee.
    Subd. 7. Actions against licensees. (a) In addition to any other actions authorized by this
section, the commissioner may, by order, deny, suspend, or revoke the authority or license of a
person subject to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the commissioner, as described under
section 45.011, subdivision 4, or censure that person if the commissioner finds that:
(1) the order is in the public interest; and
(2) the person has violated any law, rule, or order related to the duties and responsibilities
entrusted to the commissioner; or
(3) the person has provided false, misleading, or incomplete information to the commissioner
or has refused to allow a reasonable inspection of records or premises; or
(4) the person has engaged in an act or practice, whether or not the act or practice directly
involves the business for which the person is licensed or authorized, which demonstrates that
the applicant or licensee is untrustworthy, financially irresponsible, or otherwise incompetent or
unqualified to act under the authority or license granted by the commissioner.
(b) The commissioner shall issue an order requiring a licensee or applicant for a license
to show cause why the license should not be revoked or suspended, or the licensee censured,
or the application denied. The order must be calculated to give reasonable notice of the time
and place for a hearing on the action, and must state the reasons for the entry of the order. The
commissioner may, by order, summarily suspend a license pending final determination of an order
to show cause. If a license is suspended pending final determination of an order to show cause,
a hearing on the merits must be held within 30 days of the issuance of the order of suspension.
All hearings must be conducted according to chapter 14. After the hearing, the commissioner
shall enter an order disposing of the matter as the facts require. If the licensee or applicant fails to
appear at a hearing after having been duly notified of it, the person is considered in default, and
the proceeding may be determined against the licensee or applicant upon consideration of the
order to show cause, the allegations of which may be considered true. The summary suspension
or summary revocation procedures does not apply to action by the commissioner against the
certificate of authority of an insurer authorized to do business in Minnesota.
Except for information classified as confidential under sections 60A.03, subdivision 9;
60A.031; 60A.93; and 60D.22, the commissioner may make any data otherwise classified as
private or confidential pursuant to this section accessible to an appropriate person or agency if
the commissioner determines that the access will aid the law enforcement process, promote
public health or safety, or dispel widespread rumor or unrest. If the commissioner determines that
private or confidential information should be disclosed, the commissioner shall notify the attorney
general as to the information to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure, and the need for the
disclosure. The attorney general shall review the commissioner's determination. If the attorney
general believes that the commissioner's determination does not satisfy the purpose and intent of
this provision, the attorney general shall advise the commissioner in writing that the information
may not be disclosed. If the attorney general believes the commissioner's determination satisfies
the purpose and intent of this provision, the attorney general shall advise the commissioner in
writing, accordingly.
After disclosing information pursuant to this provision, the commissioner shall advise the
chairs of the senate and house of representatives judiciary committees of the disclosure and
the basis for it.
    Subd. 7a. Authorized disclosures of information and data. (a) The commissioner may
release and disclose any active or inactive investigative information and data to any national
securities exchange or national securities association registered under the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 when necessary for the requesting agency in initiating, furthering, or completing
an investigation.
(b) The commissioner may release any active or inactive investigative data relating to
the conduct of the business of insurance to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or
the Office of Thrift Supervision in order to facilitate the initiation, furtherance, or completion
of the investigation.
    Subd. 8. Stop order. In addition to any other actions authorized by this section, the
commissioner may issue a stop order denying effectiveness to or suspending or revoking any
registration.
    Subd. 9. Powers additional. The powers contained in subdivisions 1 to 8 are in addition to
all other powers of the commissioner.
    Subd. 10. Rehabilitation of criminal offenders. Chapter 364 does not apply to an applicant
for a license or to a licensee where the underlying conduct on which the conviction is based would
be grounds for denial, censure, suspension, or revocation of the license.
    Subd. 11. Actions against lapsed license. If a license lapses, is surrendered, withdrawn,
terminated, or otherwise becomes ineffective, the commissioner may institute a proceeding under
this subdivision within two years after the license was last effective and enter a revocation or
suspension order as of the last date on which the license was in effect, or impose a civil penalty as
provided for in subdivision 6.
    Subd. 12. Conditions of relicensure. A revocation of a license prohibits the licensee from
making a new application for a license for at least two years from the effective date of the
revocation. The commissioner may, as a condition of reapplication, require the applicant to
obtain a bond or comply with additional reasonable conditions of licensure the commissioner
considers necessary to protect the public.
History: 1987 c 336 s 2; 1989 c 330 s 2; 1990 c 415 s 1; 1991 c 306 s 1-6; 1992 c 564 art 1
s 2-8; 1993 c 145 s 1; 1993 c 204 s 3-7; 1993 c 361 s 3; 1994 c 385 s 3; 1996 c 384 s 1,2; 1996 c
439 art 1 s 4,5; art 2 s 1; 1997 c 7 art 2 s 7; 1999 c 137 s 1,2; 2000 c 483 s 1; 1Sp2001 c 9 art 16
s 1; 2002 c 379 art 1 s 113; 2004 c 285 art 4 s 1; 2004 c 290 s 20