State officials say Connecticut has collected $1.1 million in fines from 240 out-of-state businesses that operated here without a license during the last fiscal year.
The businesses paid fines between $135 and $39,630, down from last year’s figure of 353 non-compliant businesses paying a total of $1.7 million.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who is the state’s Chief Business Registrar, attributed the drop in unregistered businesses to a new online business formation tool.
“We do understand that in many cases the failure to register was unintentional. However, in order to ensure accountability to consumers we must have a record of businesses in operation,” Merrill said.
Out-of-state businesses are required to register with the state and appoint an agent of service in Connecticut, who can be served with legal papers in case court action is taken against the company. The fine for not registering is $300 for every month a company operated in Connecticut without a license. Almost 5,000 out-of-state companies were registered with the Secretary of the State’s office last year.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz said that registering out-of-state businesses is about equity and consumer protection.
“This is about fairness for businesses in their home state,” Schwartz said. “This also about protecting consumers from companies that did not follow the rules like everybody else. Consumers should make sure companies and individuals they do business with are registered, properly licensed, insured, and competent.”
A list of the companies that were fined is available on the Secretary of the State’s website.
Most of the fines collected were between $1,000 and $10,000. Sidney Frank Importing Co. Inc. paid by far the largest fine of $39,630, more than $12,000 higher than the next penalty. The company, based in New Rochelle, N.Y., is a liquor importer best known for introducing Jagermeister and Grey Goose vodka to the U.S.