Midwest Oil awaits ruling on stations in Minnesota

The Shawano Leader/December 29, 2005

While gaining a victory Tuesday for its gas pricing practices in Wisconsin, Midwest Oil is still awaiting a decision from the state of Minnesota related to gas stations the company owns there.

The state Commerce Department has accused Midwest Oil of Minnesota of more than 160 violations of a state law that requires stations to charge at least 8 cents more per gallon than they pay, which could mean total penalties of as much as $1.6 million.

A state administrative law judge recommended on Oct. 26 that the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce take disciplinary action against Midwest Oil.

Bruce Gordon, director of communications for the Commissioner of Commerce, said Wednesday that no action has been decided yet.

He said there is a 90-day period following the judge’s recommendation during which the commissioner reviews the record and hears from both parties in the case.

That would put the decision into late January or early February, he said.

The commissioner can adopt, reject or modify the administrative law judge’s findings.

Midwest Oil, a subsidiary of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, owns three gas stations in Minnesota: Oakdale Exxon, Anoka Exxon and Budget-Mart Mobil in Albert Lea.

The department alleges that its investigators repeatedly bought gasoline below minimum prices at all three stations and that Midwest Oil failed to fully comply with subpoenas requesting documents.

Commerce also alleged that Midwest Oil charged less at the pump than the prices posted on its signs and that the company offered illegal discounts if customers paid inside rather than at the pump.

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