January 10, 2006

Spitzer proposes 25 pct as mark for price gouging

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York retailers of gasoline or
other products would be presumed to be illegally price-gouging
under a new law if they raised their prices or markups 25
percent or more after a market disruption like a hurricane, the
state's attorney general said on Tuesday.

Eliot Spitzer, a candidate for New York governor in this
year's election, said his proposed new law would clarify the
state's statutes on gouging, which he said are vague and overly
limit damages.

The new law would fine gougers $500 per violation plus
three times their profits per violation. Under existing law
penalties are capped at $10,000.

Spitzer said last month the state's laws ought to be
changed, after reaching a $63,500 settlement with 15 gas
stations that allegedly gouged prices in the wake of August's
Hurricane Katrina.

Those stations all raised their markup on retail gas by at
least 25 percent after Katrina, which caused higher prices and
spot gas shortages across the country.