San Juan – The Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) imposed two fines on the Empire Gas company, for failing to comply with several agency orders related to price increases in the sale of liquefied gas in Puerto Rico, as reported on Wednesday, the secretary appointed, Edan Rivera Rodríguez.
“Certainly, Empire Gas notified us of a price increase; but that notification in no way meets the criteria established in our Order 2014-008. So much so that they did not even report how much the alleged increase is. The increase, if implemented, is clearly illegal and if it violates the maximum allowed margin, this could lead to additional fines and sanctions, ”said Rivera Rodríguez in written statements.
He explained that the fine is imposed after inspectors last week carried out an operation throughout the Island to monitor the fuel sales industry in Puerto Rico, particularly gasoline and liquefied gas, to confirm that the increase was within of the profit margin and did not incur consumer abuse.
It indicated that, since the company has not provided the information that it was required to submit, it cannot be determined whether the increase in the sale price of liquefied gas is within the gross profit margin that the DACO froze under the status of emergency as a result of COVID-19.
He noted, after the operation last week, “in addition to the presence we had on the street, we sent information requests to wholesalers, including Empire Gas. The company also failed to provide us with the requested information, and that led to the second fine issued, ”he indicated.
The first fine to Empire Gas is $ 2,800 for seven violations of Order 2014-008, in relation to the notice of the price increase. Each day that elapses since the notification of this fine will be considered as an additional violation, thus increasing the amount to be paid. The second fine was $ 10,000, the maximum that the Organic Law allows it to impose on DACO, for failure to comply with the Information Request sent on January 21. Regarding this second fine, additional fines could be issued if the breach continues.
“Here we are seeing a pattern of defaults from Empire Gas that could even be interpreted as a challenge to the regulatory and supervisory powers of DACO. We are not going to allow that, ”said Rivera.