Section 6: Investigations by state secretary of possible violations of chapter 174C; administrative fines; payment of investigation costs
Section 6. (a) The state secretary, in his discretion, may make public or private investigation within or outside of the commonwealth as he considers necessary to determine whether a person has violated or is about to violate this chapter. For purposes of an investigation or proceeding, the secretary or an officer designated by him 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 which the secretary considers relevant or material to the inquiry. In the case of contumacy by or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to a person, the superior court for the county in which the person is found or is an inhabitant or transacts business, upon application by the secretary, may issue to the person an order requiring him to appear before the secretary, or the officer designated by him, there to produce documentary evidence if so ordered or to give evidence concerning 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.
(b) If the state secretary determines, after notice and opportunity for hearing, that a person has engaged in or is about to engage in an act or practice constituting a violation of this chapter, he may order that person to cease and desist from the unlawful act or practice and may take affirmative action, including the imposition of an administrative fine, the issuance of an order for accounting, disgorgement or recession or other relief as in his judgment may be necessary to carry out this chapter. An administrative fine imposed pursuant to this chapter shall not exceed $5,000 for each violation.
(c) In addition, a person whom the state secretary has investigated who has been found to have violated this chapter shall pay for all costs incurred in the conduct of the investigation. The costs shall include, but not be limited to, the salaries and other compensation paid to clerical, administrative, investigative and legal personnel of the secretary in the conduct of the investigation.